Category Archives: Writing (General Musings)

“What if your money maker is your cunning intellect and sense?”

Matthew B. Crawford’s argument that

“‘the age of distraction” we’re living in is making it more and more difficult to ‘achieve a coherent self’”

presents issues and ideas worth bringing into a public discussion, but it is necessary to receive these ideas with caution. Properly weighing his propositions with their counterarguments will keep the conversation from becoming a simple one that might better succeed in instilling public fear than provoking intelligent criticism and awareness.

(Image via  www.frontpagemag.com)

Opening up a discourse that encourages the general public to observe how they’re allocating their “finite executive attention” is a noble task—kudos, Crawford. That being said, I think a large number of lives in this era have benefitted tremendously from the constant communication and plethora of instantaneous resources we presently live with.

Crawford’s ideology regards skilled practices as the Rosetta stone to truly finding coherence in life and oneself; consider how this philosophy intersects with an interpretation of Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” in which this creed seems to be rewarded. Mama and Maggie find a sense of self and a sense of generational unity in their ability to do rather than to simply know of these skilled practices.

(Image via www.quickmeme.com)

Walker presents the type of counterpoint that Crawford’s argument needs via the unlikeable character Wangero (Dee). Dee is an outsider to the skilled practices of churning butter and quilting—such an outsider that she takes physical elements of these practices to showcase as artifacts of her heritage rather than to use practically. Okay, fine… She is also a version of what Crawford’s argument cautions against, but just as we can’t ignore the flipsides of Crawford’s beliefs, we can’t ignore that Dee has obtained a new position in society. Perceived moments of disrespect and ignorance force the casual reader to be unlikely to read farther into Dee’s character, but a look at some of the basic facts about her personality show that she is an intellectual with aspirations. The American Dream even comes to mind.

Dee comes from the exact same household as Maggie and Mama. She could have stayed there, but “Dee wanted nice things;” she wanted to evolve (50). She could have been sent to school and decided it was too difficult for her. She could have failed. She could have remained illiterate. She may have become condescending in her quest for her greater, more intellectual lifestyle and I’m not condoning that behavior, but I do think that we should reward the side of this person who persevered and learned!–within this space, we should counter Crawford.

Why can’t being an academic be as much of a coherent version of self as is partaking in a skilled practice like churning butter or knowing how to kill and strip a cow? We need to not forget to reward the fact that in the face of all this stimulation and constant communication, people are adapting and evolving and becoming humans with skills that are useful for the direction in which the world is going. Not that we should be rid of cooks and welders and mechanics and farmers, but that society doesn’t require as many of these positions as it once did.  And that’s OK.  It makes room for people like Steve Roggenbuck:

And who is Crawford, or anyone, to tell him that he is not someone with his beautiful poetry?  He has a coherent self.  He inspires.  He spreads happiness.  He has a next step.

Now consider the relationship between Crawford’s argument and Joseph Harrison’s poem “The Site.” These two texts can easily be regarded as complimenting one another. They share an underlying murmur of fear that I think we should combat. As my professor, Dr. Norwood, mentioned in class, movies concerning future technologies are almost always disastrous; of course a story needs a conflict to be a story, but our society takes the evolution of cyber-realism to an extreme. We will create our own demise! Robots will overpower us! We’re becoming mindless! Slow down.

It seems these fears are quite alive in “The Site.” “We have all your information”… “You cannot leave”… “You have lost your will.”  When did we sign this blood contract?  I’m still perfectly happy to spend an extended period of time outside, sans technology or advertisements, as are most human beings.  We are complex creatures that require a change of scenery, fresh air, activity, curiosity and sating of curiosity. We have desires.  The fact that I browse Instagram while I’m on the john doesn’t mean I’m not going to read a book ever again or know how to ride a bike or make a paper airplane.

Executive attention may be finite but we are capable of an extraordinary amount of learning, and there is so much knowledge and experience we’ve gained from this era of constant communication. Think of all the people who have learned how to play guitar or make music because of Youtube videos. How many people have learned how to cook family recipes handed down for generations because of Allrecipes.com or the Food Network? Think of all the people, young and old, who have been able to further their educations, both skilled and intellectual, because of the internet and advertising and awareness. All of the teachers and students out there.

Crawford wants us to “reclaim the real,” but I think we are reinventing it.

We are not in a time of crisis. We are in a time of vast opportunity. Some people may fall down the rabbit hole and waste these chances, but all that just chalks itself up to social Darwinism. Not everyone can be saved, but perhaps instead of cautioning against all the media and technology at our fingertips threatening to dissolve us, we should be focusing on and teaching others how best to utilize these incredible resources.

(Image via www.quickmeme.com)

Yes, yes it is.

Reader Response: Encouters with Unexpected Animals (Bret Anthony Johnston)

Despite being a mere four pages long, Encounters with Unexpected Animals by Bret Anthony Johnston provides a remarkable amount of action and emotion to process. I want to focus on the answer to the question “what does it mean to be a human in this particular story?” I think one of the most predominant human characteristics woven in this story is control/power or lack thereof. The reader does not have access into the mind of Lambright, but the story is filled with his decisions.

From the first sentence, Lambright is deciding to drive his son’s, Robbie’s, girlfriend home, an action that seems to have a particular motivation since it is said to be an abnormal choice for him to make. The girl, Lisa, is described as a rebel and a potential bad influence on Robbie, who is younger than she. When Lambright is the one driving Lisa in his own car, he holds a position of power and control over her. He literally gets to decide where they go, and he tries to assume the role of navigator within their conversation as well. His actions are entirely premeditated, regarding motivation.

Lambright recalls a wild dinner-table conversation, in which Lisa claimed to have seen many non-native animals in domestic spaces. At Lambright’s house, Lisa plays the role of the exotic, a fact not lost on Lambright who wonders not what Robbie sees in her, but what Lisa finds attractive in Robbie. He recalls Robbie’s average, childhood boy’s room and compares it to the brasher standard of living he has acquired since Lisa came along. Not only is Lambright losing his sense of control and security concerning his son, he mentions that two of his wife’s necklaces and a bottle of her pills have gone missing. The underage couple is also caught drinking whiskey in his own backyard. Not even his own house is under his control anymore.

Lambright tries to regain his pre-Lisa control by telling her to ditch Robbie and move along. When she provides resistance to this idea, positions of power intermingle and things get sexual, another form of power and control. Lisa questions if Lambright might try to rape her if she refuses to dump Robbie, to which Lambright only says, “Lisa,” in a tone that makes him feel superior and father-like. He revels in these feelings and then things become overtly sexual. From keywords like “stiff,” and “shiver,” Lisa begins taunting Lambright by scooting close to him and seeming to give him approval to dominate her in an act of sex. There is a major game of control and power playing out here, which Lisa seems to win. Lambright backs down from her seduction. The mouse ends up fleeing from the cat, as it were, when Lisa bolts from Lambright’s truck before he makes a move in any direction. Instead, he begins to make his next move, thinking about how “to see her as an animal he’d managed to avoid, a rare and dangerous creature he’d describe for Robbie when he got home.”

Lost and Found.

Each day we equip ourselves with an outfit and necessary add-ons that we hope will be right for the given weather and venue.  We make sure our socks and undies are clean, our phones are charged, and our nails are polished, but we fail to attend to the one accessory that we continually wear without consciously putting it on: uncertainty.   This sensation can range from something as simple as not knowing if you really want a sandwich for lunch because a salad might be more refreshing to questioning major life choices like your occupation, partner, or how you spend your free time.

Perhaps regret is only the invention of uncertainty; we fear our choices in the present and run to our past for a sense of comfort and self-understanding.  “If only I were brave again” and  “If only I had chosen to date into my thirties” allows us to affirm that we are making the wrong decisions in the present — we give ourselves an older, concrete (romanticized) version of our own life with which we can compare our current, unsure choices.  Could we stop recalling the past if we paid more attention to understanding and coping with the uncertainties of our present?

When we are young, we are conditioned to define ourselves in a series of favorites.  What is your favorite food?  Color?  Outfit?  Time of day?  Season?  And even if we don’t really have an answer, we pick one.  Pizza, Purple, Jeans and a T-shirt, 4 o’clock, Autumn.  Is it healthy to set our list of favorites at such a young age?  Maybe the reason why we are so addicted to quizzes about the “self” on Facebook and in the backs of our favorite magazines is because we get to do it all over.  Redefine.  BE defined in some concrete way.  “WHO ARE YOU?” they ask, and we remember how easy it was to pencil in a piece of paper in grade school and feel happy and unique and accepted.

What does setting favorites do for our present and future self?  In the ninth grade, my favorite color combination was black and pink, and thus most of my closet became shaded this way.  At the time, it was just another fun-fact about me: Leah’s favorite colors are black and pink.  I can see in retrospect that something about the juxtaposition of gothic dark black and shamefully feminine pink expressed the poles that my teenage-self was drowning between; a playing field that allowed me to flex and extend or recoil and contract depending on my findings.  A decade later I’m still not entirely sure I can fill out the “WHO ARE YOU” sheet of my childhood with certainty, but I can clearly see remnants of my “favorite color combination” declaration still in affect, unable to give up some comfort of feeling defined.

While we are stuck feeling that we used to be such distinct people, how can we learn to let ourselves redefine without using internet and magazine quizzes for assurance?

Perhaps this theory of uncertainty can be applied to the way our fashions recycle as well.  Did I cut and color my hair because this style really is my favorite?  Or is it because I miss who I was when I looked this way in the past?  Or further, because I was unable to allow myself to transition into some new, thus-far undefined version of myself who might develop new favorites?

The Hair.

Regardless, for now I believe I look and feel fabulous [and sometimes that is something that we need], but in the long run are we just using past favorites to avoid our present uncertainties?


 

I’d love to thank Alia at Tulip Salon Spa for giving me this fabulous cut and color and being an absolute dream.  :)   I could not be happier.  Below is a second picture without a filter:

No Filter Haircut

Passions.

The chapter that I had to read for homework tonight for my CW:Nonfiction had a really cool exercise in it that I’ve decided to go ahead and do.  The idea is to think about 10 different roles that you assume in your life and write a paragraph about each one.  In the end, you are to find the connections between all the paragraphs – key terms, ideologies, etc.  These connections that you make between each of your roles will, without your trying to make them do so, end up highlighting deeper meanings in dealing with who you are, what your passions are, and what is important to you.  I am writing this intro paragraph after having written all the subsequent descriptions of myself.  I have all ready begun to realize patterns and words that connect the different positions I assume, but I would like to take the night to sleep on it and re-read these paragraphs in the morning to better recognize what matters to me.  With that being said, I encourage you all to come up with your own list and, if you feel comfortable doing so, share it with me in the comments below or in whatever way you’d like :)

1. Sister:  I am simultaneously fierce and loyal as a sister.  I worry tremendously about the mental health and general well-being of my brothers.  I cherish them in a way that goes beyond the modern use of the term.  I know that my bond with them is quite different than the bond I will have with any other trio of people in the world.  I love them in a way that they wouldn’t probably believe.  I want nothing but the best for them and I would do anything for them.  I am very protective of my younger brothers but I try to play it cool in front of them.  I worry that one day they will hold against me the fact that I left home at such an early age, while they were so young, just as I now hold things that my older brother has done to me against him.  I frequently try to impress upon them how sorry I am for feeling the need to leave, and I try the best I can to let them know that they are more than just anyone to me.  They are everyone to me.  Presently, my older brother and I do not have a relationship and I don’t think he knows how much it bothers me.  He has made me feel very unworthy of him; as if I have been some sort of alter-ego of his that he has tried so hard to shake off – in the process of which I have been discarded.  I worry that we will never mend our relationship.  Overall, as a sister I fear deeply the loss of relationships and want desperately to be not rejected by my brothers.  I want us to be inseparable and a force.

Bros.
JLS

2. Daughter:  While I recognize that I am a daughter, I rarely feel like one.  My relationships with my parents were very strained and confused when I lived with them.  Having been out of the house for 8 years now, these dynamics have shifted.  I love my relationship with my mother and I would do anything for her, but I feel more like friends than mother-daughter.  My father is a very generous provider and a busy person, but I don’t feel like I have ever made him very proud or been a person of interest to him in a genuine way.  This role is the most painful and stressing for me of any of them.  I have always worried excessively about making them happy and fulfilling their wishes; I am still learning how not to do this.  For example, I have chosen to be a writer, and despite the fact that I have informed them about my maintaining this blog, neither of them read it – a fact that really kills me.  In fact, if I had any fear of them reading this blog I wouldn’t have posted this paragraph at all, and yet?  I wouldn’t dare post a picture of them because the sheer terror of how they would react if they saw their picture on the internet scares me to death. [Despite the fact that both of their pictures are on the internet, and not by my hand]

3. Student:  As a student I am always doing my very best.  I tried to make my teachers, and now professors, proud of me for my brilliance the way I want(ed) my parents to be proud of me.  I always manage to make my intellect shine over the course of knowing an educator, and if I don’t feel that this trait is personally acknowledged by them, I become extremely disappointed… in myself.  This is the forum for me to make myself feel special and worthy of attention.  I go above and beyond until I cannot go anymore.  As a young student, my hard work helped me gain recognition that I felt I lacked elsewhere in my life, and it felt really good.  I am struggling in my older years to realize that just because someone is older than me and CAN appreciate what I can do, does not mean that I should be so desperately seeking their approval.

Forever.
Homework.

4. Waitress:  Similarly to how I feel with my “Student” tshirt on, so is the life of Leah the Server.  I continue to do what I am doing because it makes me feel good, and it makes me feel good because I am good at what I do.  I went through a period of seeking approval and recognition from my boss until he ever-so-gently crushingly called me out on it and made me think about why I was doing it with him;  I know he knows I’m great at what I do.  Even though it hurt my feelings terribly when he pointed out my shameless approval-seeking behaviors, I am glad that he did; if he hadn’t I would still question my worth in his kitchen.  Conversely, I still struggle socially at work.  This is the one time that I am forced to be friends with people and while I like them all fine enough, I worry that they speak ill of me behind my back.  I worry that they don’t actually like me at all.  I get nervous about only working in the right or middle sections – it could lead to a discussion about my value as a server or my integrity as a person.  To that idea, I have two veins of thought: 1) I only worry that they talk shit about me because they/we talk shit about other people we work with and 2) Even if they do talk badly about me, for reasons I’ve listed or things I would never even think about, they never really get stuck on these types of things for a long time.  I am really paranoid about my status at my job and I frequently worry that people think of me as a cocky person.

Me.
Drawing on my lunch container by: Jamie Humpfries, the best chicken salad sandwich maker in the world and a total BAMF in general.

5. Runner:  I love running, and most of the reasons for which I love to run I have all ready dissected in previous posts.  As a recap, I run because I feel accomplished afterwards.  What I haven’t yet disclosed is the fact that I listen to extremely motivational music while I run (to me, anyway) and I fixate my brain on a person that I hate or love to help myself cope with my feelings for them.  I spend my time running, obsessing.  I get it all out in one fell swoop.  I dance and sign and sing while I run.  I run with extreme focus.  This is my place to think thoughts that I forbid myself to think in other places and let myself get carried away for a defined amount of time.  It is therapeutic and makes me feel like I’ve made a point to someone who doesn’t even know I’m thinking about them.

Leggs
Run!

6. Singer:  As a singer I am very passionate and self-conscious.  I have tremendous stage fright; I don’t want to fail at the one thing my parents have praised me for since I was very young, in front of anyone.  Even when I recorded videos for Youtube, I would shake terribly and worry that someone would apparate and tell me that I suck.  There is a lot of pressure that goes along with always being told you are good at something.  Sometimes I worry that I am making a big mistake in not pursuing my career as a singer for the simple fact that I’m always told I’m good at it.  I’ve made people cry, by singing.  That’s really powerful.  And it’s something I never would have dreamed I could do.  I think I killed this dream off when I auditioned for American Idol in 12th grade and was rejected.  They said I was too young.  I think they could see the fear in my dilated pupils and knew I wasn’t ready for failure.  I think they could see my fragility and didn’t think I would get back up and fight when I was inevitably eliminated.  And I guess they were right, but I didn’t have to go any farther than auditions for their prophecy to come true.

hchssing
In Disneyworld in 2007 singing with the HCHS choir. [I miss you COHO]
7. Gamer:  I am a nervous gamer until I am confident that I can kick anyone’s ass.  I don’t enjoy the idea of possibly being embarrassed, especially because I consider myself a serious gamer, not just a chick that likes to play games now and again and show her tits on camera.  This is an escape for me, as well.  I enjoy being someone else online.  Not that I lie or make up ridiculous things and assume another personality entirely, but that I don’t have to censor my thoughts.  I feel that I come across much better in plaintext than I ever have in real life, and I attribute some of that to the fact that I can’t see the reactions of people when I say things online.  Sure they can call me names or be really rude to me, but that’s just a particular slice of the internet culture.  Most of the time, being myself leads to me making friends that I connect with better than anyone I meet face to face.  I love being a gamer for this reason, possibly more than any other reason.

Eric
Playing WoW at Morningside :)

8. Music Lover:  *Exhale*  I really.  Can’t.  Okay.  I have met VERY few other people in my life that see and hear music the way that I do.  I’m not going to say that I am the world’s most passionate music lover and screw everyone else, but I will say that I am tied with a handful of other people for the position, and fuck everyone else.  If you’re one of them, that’s awesome and you deserve it as much as I do.  This isn’t a perfectly unique characteristic, and I know that.  There is something that music does for me that I feel I could spend a life-time writing about.  Singing and playing piano flows out of my body as easily as listening to a record flows in when the music is a certain magic.  I know more music than anyone I know and I appreciate music with utter passion.  I would rather listen to music than do ANYTHING else.  Period.  Music is inside of me.  Innately.  I know music.  Not in the technical sense.  It’s personal.  It makes me feel like I live in an alternate universe.   I will definitely work on my articulation of this subject, but I feel really caught off guard by my own emotions about this subject.

9. Reader:  As a reader I am anyone I want to be.  I become so invested in these characters and their lives.  I find my place in their world, and since the world is so perfectly lain out for me, I fit somewhere perfectly.  I like to read fantasy.  I like to escape.  I can be a part of a world that is predetermined and bound to have meaning, and that feels safe.

 

My analysis to come soon!  Please feel free and encouraged to participate in this exercise, be it for yourself or to share with me.  You might learn a bit about yourself that you never knew.

Bunburying.

In my Modern British Fiction class, we are starting the semester with a reading of Oscar Wilde’s – The Importance of Being Earnest.  This short play is extremely witty and funny and, as the Norton Critical Edition points out in the preface, Wilde tackles lots of issues to deal with “class, gender, sexuality and identity” that somehow bridge the gap between the then and now (x); a mark of great literature, in the minds of many people such as myself.  As these things make wonderful thoughts and conversation, I have decided to extend my experience to you all! :)  [Free education!]

My new Professor, Kate Haffey, has given us some ideas and questions to take into consideration corresponding to the first act of the play, and I would like to share those questions and my thoughts about them with you.  While this may sound boring, I would also like to touch on a couple of Wilde’s quotes in ACT I that I found particularly prolific and/or perfectly stereotypical of the time period.  I really encourage reading this play, regardless of who you are or what you major(ed) in!  It really is very well layered with conflict and subtext, and even if you don’t care to read into any of that, it’s funny!

Professor Haffey’s questions:  “How does The Importance of Being Earnest play on the multiple meanings of the word ‘fiction’?  In what ways does fiction appear in ACT I?  What does the text seem to be saying about fiction?  What is the inverse or opposite or other of ‘fiction’ in these instances?  What are some other terms that might serve as synonyms for ‘fiction’ within the text?

The following is my first attempt at analyzing ACT I.  It is a free-write in which I will be referencing the book and attempting to answer the questions (or thereabouts).  I have not read any of the conversation about this piece before.  I will be putting words that I believe can be synonyms for “fiction” in particular circumstances throughout.  The paragraphs themselves will be ways that I see fiction appearing in the act.

FICTION: 1. The class of literature comprising works of imaginative narration, especially in prose form.  2. Works of this class, as novels or short stories (i.e. detective fiction).  3. Something feigned, invented, or imagined; a made up story.  4. The act of feigning, inventing, or imagining. 5. An imaginary thing or event, postulated for the purposes of argument or explanation.  6. Law  An allegation that a fact exists that is known not to exist, made by authority of law to bring a case within the operation of a rule of law. (Fiction as defined on dictionary.reference.com.)

Characters Involved include the following:  John (Jack) Worthing, his friend Algernon Moncrieff, Lane (Algernon’s manservant), Lady Bracknell (Aunt Augusta), and Gwendolen Fairfax (daughter to Lady Bracknell).

In the first scene, Lane is feigning that he didn’t hear something as obvious as a piano playing in the next room in order to keep within the confines of his lower status.  Correspondingly, Algernon pretends that Lane could possibly be truthful in his act that he did not hear the piano.

On the next page, this fictional banter continues when Algernon questions Lane about the amount of champagne that was imbibed at a recent gentlemanly gathering of his.  Due to the fact that the amount of liquor that was used is quite large for the small amount of guests that were in attendance, Algernon skips all accusations and questions Lane as to why, “at a bachelor’s establishment the servants invariably drink the champagne?”  To which Lane fabricates the notion that the alcohol at an unmarried man’s house is of much better quality than elsewhere, simultaneously ignoring the underlying accusation and flattering his superior.  Again, Algernon replies as if Lane’s suggestion is truthful.

When Lane mentions his previous marriage, Algernon’s reply implies that Lane’s family life is of no interest to someone of his status, to which Lane conceals any semblance of being human by saying “No, sir; it is not a very interesting subject.  I never think of it myself.”  Again, this can be seen as Lane being overly passive to his class-superior — this repetition is just now drawing the electricity to the filament of the stereotypical, fictional light bulb above my head and making me wonder if on the whole, Wilde is commenting on just how false the relations between man and servant were in the time period.  He clearly continues in other ways to pass judgement and poke fun at many other stereotypes of which I am much quicker to understand for the time period.

*Time for a quote that I very much enjoy: “The very essence of romance is uncertainty.  If I ever get married, I’ll certainty try to forget the fact.” – Algernon (Wilde)

I’m hard-pressed to put this next excerpt up in the realm of fiction.  On the one hand, I am not a woman with very liberal feminist views; on the other hand, there is a contradiction present between two men of the same class, time and society and I feel that these few lines between the two of them may fit into definition number 5.  Algernon says that Gwendolen will not marry Jack due to the fact that she flirts with him, and “girls never marry the men they flirt with.  Girls don’t think it right”  (8).  To which Jack replies, “Oh, that is nonsense!” and Algernon continues saying, “It isn’t.  It is a great truth.  It accounts for the extraordinary number of bachelors that one sees all over the place.”

Do you see my dilemma?  Maybe not.  This is obviously an exchange laden with gender bias and fits the mold of the general opinion of women held by men of the time period; however, in terms of fictional or not, Algernon uses the word truth, and asserts multiple statements under this aura of truth that in fact may be lies.  With regard to definition number five, this is also a turning point in the conversation between the two gentleman, as Algernon is about to refuse his blessing that Jack might ask his cousin Gwen to marry him.  With this in mind, the whole of what Algernon is saying may be a story he tells (regardless of his character or true beliefs) with the intention of starting a fight.

I’m noticing back in the real world that the clock is creeping ever later and the word count ever longer, and for that reason I am going to continue this post and finish this post by addressing the most obvious use of fiction within the passage: Bunburying. (A word you’ll want in your vocabulary, trust me.)

Bunburying is “avoiding duties and responsibilities by claiming to have appointments to see fictitious people” (as listed on wikitionary.org.)  This term came to be coined by Wilde, as his character Algernon has a made-up friend by the name of Bunbury, whom Algernon effectively uses to dodge various situations he would rather not have to deal with.  There is an excessive amount of dialogue between Algernon and Jack in which Algernon accuses Jack of being a Bunburyist himself, which Jack outwardly protests but eventually is found by the viewer/reader guilty of in the highest degree.  To make matters worse, Jack’s version of Bunbury is his faux-brother named Ernest that he uses as an excuse to ditch out on his family and neighbors in the locale of his country home, and simultaneously a persona that he assumes when he is visiting in the city.  Many people know him by the name of Ernest, including the woman that he claims to love, Gwendolen.

There is a lot more I could discuss about this act and the prompted questions given to us by Professor Haffey (thank you for those!) but I must digress for now.  Again, if you have a library card or a few bucks, this read is totally worth it!  If you have all ready read this text, what did you think of it?  Were your interpretations similar to mine?  Let me know in the comments below!

I may be MIA tomorrow, as it will be mah birthday.

Tiara is ready!

 

Frickin’ Cocoons.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve spent this week with my forehead just barely creeping over the top of some book or another for the majority of the day.  I have been tackling one of the 11 books I will read this upcoming semester.  [Eleven.]  The one I have decided to take on first is called Between Song & Story.  It is a really brilliant collection of short stories that seem to range anywhere from 1 to 12 pages a piece, all of them of the ‘creative nonfiction’ genre.

For those of you who may not have been readers of mine in the earlier months of the summer when I detailed my first real interaction with this genre, it is, in essence, a genre in which the author aims to tell a completely true story.  This doesn’t sound like much of a difficult feat, but imagine going about even your everyday life trying to communicate in whole truths! – i.e. You’re not allowed to paraphrase or roundabout what someone said to convey it to someone else, direct quotes only!  And you can’t fill in details unless you’re positive that you’re remembering them correctly to the best of your ability.

It is a genre with many unique challenges, and it is the subject of a class I will be taking this upcoming semester.

It has been really interesting in reading this collection creative nonfiction to see that there is actually a wide variety of topics that an author can cover and still fit the scene.  I am about half way through the book so far and I have read about everything from weather to mating bats and issues of race to how to write the “best” nature essay, ever.  While the subject material has been broad, I couldn’t help but notice a few of the same themes popping up within these works, despite the fact that every author is unrelated and someone completely different that the last.

The main patterns I’ve picked up on are ones involving:

  • The weather
  • Transformation – Particularly involving some sort of cocoon imagery
  • Moving
  • Feeling lost

One doesn’t really have to think about it long to see that these issues are pretty universal.  For this reason, they are easily understood, easy to relate to, and pop up as matters of import in all of our lives at one point or another.  And in fact, I didn’t have to think long about it to realize that this very blog has covered each one of these topics, and will undoubtedly cover each one again from a different angle.

I find in my thoughts that I frequently try to boil things down to their root cause;  I like to know the “why” – a characteristic that annoyed the ever-living hell out of my mother when I was a child.  I like to make sense of things and rationalize them.  I do so anxiously and feverishly until I am satisfied with my answer or too exhausted to theorize any further.  I’ve come to the conclusion that within the contents of a collection of creative nonfiction, such as Between Song & Story, the topics that recur often (such as the four I’ve listed) are things that we all talk about in an effort to manage their inherent instability.

It is a part of our present culture to tether ourselves to that which is stable.  A long-term job, or “career” as we have dubbed it, a plot of land with a a structure to call home, a partner to spend our stable life with ’til death do us part.  We feel badly when we do not have a long-term “best friend” or when we are forced to relocate and leave all of our previous efforts at eradicating instability behind.

Is this a natural part of humanity or something born of actually settling down?  Fossils of human bones have been found dating thousands of years back, indicating that humans were living in settlements together.  Did they have the same anxious feeling of needing to secure some sort of stability?  Surely they would always work to be living some where that allowed them to continue to flourish, and for that reason I can understand group migration, but this is not an issue with regards to what I am interested in.

I want to know if it is natural to feel threatened when we lack the characteristics that define stability in the modern world.  By my standard ways of thinking, this trait is indeed natural as all of my usual context clues are in order; the topic broadly affects many people from many places in a variety of ways and surfaces frequently despite age, race, religion, etc.  But I just don’t know enough to be sure that this feeling has indeed been around before the “age of comparison”, if you will.

I think I will be doing some research to get a better understanding of why instability is such an overwhelming issue to people.  I will do some inner-interrogation to try to better understand what it is about topics like those of BS&S and my blog that will me to write about and deal with them under a microscope, keeping in mind that it is not just my desire for answers that ignites the spark.

I would love to hear from some of you, as well.  Do you have a theory?  Do you know some things that could enlighten me about the psyche of ancient humans?  And what is it with the imagery of a cocoon that allows people to better transform themselves through the adversity of instability?

Discouraged.

Lately I have been having a really difficult time with keeping myself from feeling discouraged.  90’s babies [like myself] have grown up in an era where comparisons are easily accessible and frequently thrown in our faces.  There are a multitude of “social media” websites to begin with, so that when we are home, we can see how fantastic some guy we knew in middle school is doing – “Oh. My God.  He’s all ready a doctor and I still live in an apartment with stuffed animals.”  Fantastic.  Then there are the body image related “perks” of the age – “Look at that stupid bitch with her perfect, stupid face and perky tits in that bikini.  I had a whole quart of Ben and Jerry’s to myself last night.”  I’m so fugly.

Don’t have the time to sit at home and browse the accomplishments of other people?  Fear not!  Just download the app!  Now you’ve got a whole slew of self-loathing to take on the go!  Even while you go!  Even if you refrain from the Facebooks and the smart phones, there are magazines taunting you with “secretive” information about how to “better please your man” or “Lose Five LBS Fast!”  Don’t even get me started on the television and Hollywood aspect of it, either.  I have no idea how the future generations are going to handle further developments of these mediums.

Now, this isn’t all to say that every time I look at someone else I’m envious instead of proud of their accomplishments, or jealous instead of happy for their hard-earned payoffs.  I’m quite well aware that comparison is a downward spiral to no where – a sentiment I have expressed before.  I actively try to avoid these dark mentalities, as a matter of fact.  I hate the thought of buying into all the crap the world is selling.

But lately though?  I’ve really been struggling.  I think this kink in my defenses is a product of trying REALLY hard to better myself and enduring the inevitable time it takes to get where you want to go.  It’s a difficult issue to have plague you because it comes in waves.  I’m not always unhappy or down about my situation.

My life really isn’t bad!  I’m in college, actively pursuing a degree, I casually work a job that I love, I maintain an apartment that I love, I run for pleasure and stay on top of my health, I mean, what’s to complain about, right?

Frequently, I share these sentiments.  But occasionally, I just want to scream out into the wind that it’s NOT THAT EASY!  I still struggle with the fact that my unconventional schooling path has brought me to a point where, while most of my former peers are making their way in graduate school or a full-fledged “adult” job, getting married, having babies, etc., I am sitting in classrooms with 17-19 year old kids, busting my brains for a degree.  I’m really far behind!  Granted, I’m still DOING it, right?  Sometimes I forget to realize that somewhere out there, there is a kid I could have been, who isn’t doing it.  I struggle to be proud of myself for slimming down and getting healthy when I had been a chubby kid my whole life.  Sure, I can run three consecutive miles without feeling like I’m dying and I weight train like a boss, but I still don’t have a bikini body, visible abs, and I still DO have an overwhelming love for cookies.  I don’t look like I try as hard as the people I know or have known that sport washboard abs and pecs the size of my ACTUAL tits.

But that’s the whole point, isn’t it?  To be proud of YOURSELF.  No one really knows how hard you try.  And more people might admire you than you know.  Scoffing at someone who may be “farther” along than you are in a particular aspect of life is not healthy.  Other peoples’ progress does not negate your own.  No one really cares about your story unless they can benefit from it.  (I.e. OMG how did you lose all that weight?  How did you make it through graduate school?  How did you pass the bar?)  And even then, they want to know for their OWN personal gain.  I can’t tell you how many of you, my readers, have told me at the most RANDOM times that you read my blog.  You have no idea how flattering and exciting it is for me to hear that you’re out there, reading my thoughts.  I feel like such an ant on this planet sometimes, and that is the kind of thing that is so rare.  To feel special.  To feel like your efforts really DO matter.  And it is that sort of thought that has fueled me to come back and talk about why I’ve been away again, and why I don’t blog every day.  I’m scared that it means nothing.

I hope that reading about my existential crises and insecurities can bring you some form of calm about your own.  You really do matter.  Your accomplishments are HUGE, even if no one knows how fucking hard it was for you to achieve them.  And if you ever need someone to brag to?  Someone to see you?  I’m always here.

 

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While I was gone, I FINALLY found a dresser for the bedroom.  This has been a THREE year long hunt.  I finally found this cute piece at D&T Treasures here in F’burg.  Definitely check them out!  Really good prices for some really adorable furniture!  They have a Facebook page, if you want to look at some pics!

I haven’t sorted out all the nick-knacks yet, so I apologize for that.  But I had to show you!  The dresser came with the white pulls on all 6 drawers, but I snagged the glass and owl pulls at World Market and love the more eclectic vibe it gives the piece!  Much more my style.  The dresser is a piece from Basset that the folks at D&T hand painted.  Only 125 bucks!  Finally, a steal!  It took a LOT for me to pull the trigger on a dresser, but I guess that’s how I know I made the right decision! :)

Rent: Part Deux.

Hello, my friends.  Yesterday I blogged at length about the pros and cons of renting a house or an apartment and noted some tips and tricks about the renting process.  As promised, today I’d like to discuss some things that you may need or want in your first rented space, and perhaps even shed some light on some ideas you hadn’t thought of before.

When moving out, it’s natural to remember things like a bed, sheets, and pillows.  Generally anything that pertains to one’s bedroom will be easily remembered because most of the time the bedroom is the one domain that people can consider “theirs” before they move out.  This one-room thought syndrome can has personally made me forget some of the no-brainer objects that are necessities for living in a space where you aren’t able to co-use whatever is at your disposal.

1. Trash Cans.  Most people end up putting one trash can in their kitchen area and another, smaller bin in their most frequently used bathroom.  Thankfully, one of those things that seem to last forever is a box of standard-sized trash can liners.  Definitely invest in an upright trashcan for your kitchen!  The bags are not a budget-buster, and it is so much easier to have a larger bin than it is to hang plastic baggies around the knobs in the rooms in your house to act as “the garbage.”  (Imagine the stink anyway!)  But save those baggies!  Almost everyone’s Mom has a 10 year supply of old grocery bags that they’d be glad for you to pillage!  Ask your friends’ Mothers as well as your own.  These are excellent liners for your bathroom trash bin.  I’ve learned the hard way that you really DO need a liner in them, so don’t skimp on something so easy.  You’ll ruin your bin and be disgusted, simultaneously.  – An aside to think about if you have two bathrooms: do you have people over frequently?  If you do, you may want a second bin in your less-used bathroom.  You really don’t want to leave someone hanging, making them walk through your house with a boogie tissue or worse!

2. A vacuum.  Depending on your level of hair-shedding, general cleanliness, and lack or possession of a pet, I’d recommend throwing down for a nice vacuum.  Surprisingly, the local Goodwill usually has two or three vacuums that are in pretty decent shape; they may be old, but they are usually more powerful models that will suit your needs.  Another place to hunt for a deal is local tag sales.  The other day I saw someone selling my EXACT vacuum for like 20 bucks, hardly used…  And that thing was more than three times that much brand new!  [A tip for going to yard sales: it’s useful to go later in the day or towards the end of their 2-day event because people are basically giving their items away out of desperation].  If you simply don’t have the money for something snazzy and/or bag-less, Oreck sells these small, basically handheld vacuums that do a decent job and cost next to nothing. (Check eBay and Craigslist, too!)

3. Pots & Pans, Silverware, Plates & Bowls, Cooking Utensils.  You may not want to start cooking your own meals, but it saves a LOT of money to learn a couple dishes and not eat out.  And don’t even get me started on the pounds you can put on in a heartbeat eating fast food every night!  My recommendations are again, raiding asking your Mom and your friends’ Moms for any old stuff they are willing to part with, and scouting local tag sales (obviously don’t buy anything that looks gross).  Ten or twenty bucks will go really far at Walmart or the Dollar Store if you need silverware, as well.  I would buy at least 2 box sets if you go this route, unless you want to have to hand-wash silverware in between running the dishwasher cycles.

4. Cutting Board and Tupperware.  A cutting board is a must when you start cooking.  I have one for my meats only, and another for veggies and miscellaneous things.  Tupperware is also a must, and really saves you lots of money in the long run!  Tin foil can be pretty pricey, so I try to save mine only for cooking, rather than for covering leftovers – hence, having many Tupperware available comes in handy.  Also, you may try your hand at a dish and really enjoy it and need some Tupperware to take leftovers to work the next day!  For both of these items, I have had lots of luck at Kmart.  They tend to have coupons and sales on these things (Always check the end-caps of the aisles!  This is where stores put their clearance merchandise and deals!)

5. Toilet Paper, Paper Towels, Windex.  These are items you should bring with you on your first official “key-in-your-pocket” visit to your new space.  Even if you aren’t sleeping in the new space that night, you should have these ready the first time you visit.  There’s no better time to wipe down your new windows and dust off your new counter tops than when you have ZERO items in the space.  Also, having to go to the bathroom on your visit without any toilet paper is horrible!  Eric and I made that mistake at our first place and we had to sprint to the office to pee!

These five things are things that I consider essentials, that you may or may not think about in the heat of the moment.  I would also suggest, if you don’t have one all ready, to get yourself a CVS Extra CareCard (or similar for whatever drugstore is by your new place).  You have no idea the amount of money I save off those coupons!  It really comes in handy, too, for the expensive necessities like TP and PT.  If you can manage to do it, sign up with your new roommate, your mom, or your friends.  Everyone presents their card and earns savings and coupons, it’s a win win win all around.  My Mom and I share a CVS card though we live in different states, and frequently one or the other of us will get Extrabucks (free money) based on the other persons’ previous purchases, which is a real treat!  Like hitting a mini-lottery 😛

Next, I’d like to touch on a few things that are not by any means essentials, but are items that you may want to have.

1. Pur Filter.  You can go with whatever brand and style fits your personality, but I know I save tons of money by investing in my Pur Filter.  I never buy bottled water (I refill my dishwasher-safe water bottle and take it with me everywhere.  Some people prefer the pitchers that you fill up (usually Brita comes to mind when you talk about this style).  Again, it’s personal preference.

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2. Command Strips. I cannot tell you how much j’adore these things.  They are phenomenal for a million uses from hanging pictures to creating more space in the kitchen.  I buy both the packs with the hooks and without.  They are super easy to use and, as long as you adhere them correctly, won’t cause any wall-damage.  One use I’ve found both functional and fashionable for the kitchen area is using the teeny small hooks for measuring cups and spoons.

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I think I liked them better facing outwards (second picture), but I stupidly put the hook the opposite way in my new apartment and I’ve gotten used to it.  Disclaimer: the things are way more difficult to quickly hang back up when you hang them sideways (like in picture one).

I’ve also used the Command Strips to hang my oven mitts and cooking towels.

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In my new apartment, I’ve hung these items inside of a large cabinet (on the door) using command strips.

3. A Spoon Holder.  I cannot tell you how many times I wasted a paper towel and got pissed off with “spoon stick” issues while cooking before I got my spoon holder.  There are some really cool and chic ones on clearance on different upscale websites like Anthropologie, but mine was something I recently got from my Mom, and I love it.

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If you are still confused, this is for setting your sauce or meat covered cooking utensils on while making a meal.  It saves your counter tops from the stains and germs.

4. Salt and Pepper Shakers.  The store-sold cardboard or plastic bottles work just fine, but if you want to add a little decor and flare, this is an easy route to go.  I asked for S&P shakers for Christmas one year and got THREE different ones from three different people!  Who would have thought!

sp 001 sp 002 sp 003  Cute, eh? :)

5. Over the Door Hooks.  These things are useful space-savers.  My house would be MUCH messier without them!  They come in varying types, colors and textures and can be ordered online or bought in stores like Target, Walmart, and Kmart.

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As I said, these five items are by no means necessities, but they are things that make life simpler and some of them lead to money savings.  If you have a birthday or holiday coming up around the time of your move, these are excellent things to ask for!

Lastly, I’d like to touch on space-saving tips.  When renting, you are usually subject to living your life in spaces that are Alice in Wonderland-esque, proportionally speaking.  Some of my kitchens and bathrooms made me feel like I was living on a cruise ship, but aside from the feeling of being cramped, they can be downright non-functional.  Never fear, though!  There are plenty of storage solutions available these days for small spaces.

In my first kitchen, there was so little room for all my kitchenware, I opted to buy a rolling butcher’s block.  (Pictured above in the Command Strips section).  It cost about 90 bucks at Walmart, but there are tons of them out there on Craigslist and at tag sales for cheaper if you don’t have that kind of money to spend.  The inside was spacious enough to provide extra storage for my over-sized pots and pans, and the top can be used for everything from snacks to a meal-prep surface.  Because the thing is on wheels, you can cart it around as needed when you’re cooking! 😀  My BFF Jasmine even has one that stows away two chairs and can become a small dinner table for two.

Even the addition of the butcher’s block left me with ZERO counter space in my old kitchen, so I opted to buy a piece from Ikea that looks rather expensive but cost under 100 bucks.  (Special thanks to Catharine from YourModernCouple.com for helping me find this gem).  I use it in my new place as both an area for decor and a practical extra pantry.

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Not everything has to be IN your kitchen.  Putting a piece just outside your kitchen can be a pretty and functional storage solution.

I would love to hear about your own battles with the spatial issues of renting!  How did you overcome?  I would also be more than willing to take reader questions about space solutions.  Do you have a fickle space that you need help organizing or making functional?  Write about it in the comments below and I will be glad to post about your experience and provide some ideas on how to fix them!

Looove, Leah.

The Holiday Queen.

Recently the memory of my Mom’s Mom has been very prevalent in my life.  It has brought me to think a lot about family lineage and its role in our existence as humans.  There is something satisfying for us to know where we come from in the smaller sense of things since we may never know, in the larger sense.  Despite living in America, the crock-pot of identities, with all its mingled flavors, most people will be proud to announce that they are Irish or German or Polish or Scottish or Armenian, etc.  Some Americans are first or second generation citizens, and therefore may have a closer tie to their foreign roots, but plenty of us are diluted by now.  Our grandparents may have spoken a language apart from English, but in many cases the prejudices of the “new world” kept them from passing on some of the finer points of their upbringings, such as language, leaving only traditions behind.

Traditions, I would imagine, survived because they happened in safe locations such as behind the closed-doors of one’s home, or in a place of worship (or commune of some sort with people of the same background).  At home, there was no need to hide these sorts of things, so they carried on, whereas if you spoke with a distinct accent and/or were bilingual, you could be discriminated against – something I’m sure parents did not want for their children.

My Grandmother, I have been told, was from a region of Turkey, known in ancient times as Galatia.  I have no idea what the people there are like, how they speak, what their customs are, or what their ideals are.  What I do have left of my ties to her and potentially her upbringing, are her traditions.

Grandma and Grandpa Dugan circa 1944

This is a picture of my Grandmother and Grandfather circa 1944.  It is my understanding that they both came from their respective homelands through Ellis Island, settling in NY and meeting one another.  I know very little about my Mother’s Father (pictured) other than that he enjoyed a good cigar, as he died long before I was born.

My Grandmother was a very spiritual woman, a devout Catholic, that prided herself in family, hard work, and homemaking.  She had seven children with her husband, ran an antiques business, and always fed us way more food than we needed.  She always made me feel very cherished, which was funny because she was relatively hard to get a compliment from.  She always wanted to teach us good manners and spoil us in her own ways.  She didn’t have a lot of money, but she was a funny woman with a big heart.

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(Right)

I do miss her, but I see her traditions and values in my mother and in her other children, and in myself.  Putting others before herself, never sitting down, making sure that the people she loved were well-fed and content, not allowing others to do things for her that she could do herself, being a fighter, valuing her hard-earned possessions, instilling wisdom at every possible turn, appreciating life’s beauty.

Losing a link to one’s heritage is difficult on many levels.  Regardless of whether or not you loved or got along with the person, they were part of what made you who you are and brought you to the place you are today.  They are a living relic of your personal history – someone that makes you feel like you understand just a little bit about how you got here on this earth.

All I have to remember my Grandmother are two plastic owls, one green, one yellow, that I would take absurd pictures with every time I was at her house.

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They sat in the trees just above her prayer alcove:  rofl 209

And while they are just plastic owls, I will forever covet them – as I will the memories and pictures of her – because to me they will always symbolically be more than plastic owls, to me.  They are links to the understanding of why I am here and where I came from.

Even if you are not close with your grandparents or aunts and uncles, it is worth your time (in my humble opinion) to write, email, or call them and learn more about your family and your little slice of history.  They hold knowledge that will be gone forever once they pass.

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I love and miss you, Grandma.  And to contradict the works of John Green, I write this not to bury you, but to let every one know that I still remember you.

Taking it Day by Day

Sometimes that’s all you can do, friends, and I will admit that it isn’t always easy.  My brain is a ball of silly putty being pulled by the evenly-sized fingers of my many ideas re: the direction of this post, resulting in a gumble of thinly stretched goop spindles connected by an ever shrinking nucleus.  That being said, if you are the type of reader that enjoys a standard three-point essay, you may not be into what follows here.  You’ve been warned!  Muahaha.

To the best of my knowledge, the minds of humans are quite flawless when it comes to recalling certain, important memories of the past.  The interesting thing here is [naturally] the philosophical debate that what we remember is never really the Truth with a capital T.  I’m not going to delve heavily into the idea of defining Truth, but I think most people would agree that when one tries actively to retrieve a memory from the archives, details and “facts” can be muddled subconsciously or inactively.

It might even be the account of another person’s memory of the same event that forces or persuades you to alter your own memory.  (Which, when you think about it, isn’t very logical because their memory is liable to be just as distorted at the edges as your own).  It occurs to me that in my own experiences, the memories that I trust most are the ones that come to me without my intention of retrieving them.

A song comes on your iPod.  Someone mentions an old friend’s name.  A mannerism is repeated by a stranger that you had once seen.  Most vividly, a smell lingers at your nose just long enough for you to nearly lose yourself in a bombarding emotion or image.  These “chance recollections” of memories always appear to me to be the least addled by my human tendencies, with the exception of one type of memory: the type that really hurt you or left your feathers lookin’ like an 80’s blowout.

Like a lot of kids, I had a very tumultuous middle school career.  I do believe that everyone was picked on at least once, and I’ve all ready expressed the fact that I believe that the kids doing the bullying had their own demons, probably at home.  My middle school years were so bad that I eventually ended up switching schools due to some extremely overwhelming bullying – but even these memories were not the ones that came to me clearly when, recently, my Mom and I were discussing a topic that lead into a related subject.

Instead I remembered, of all things, a very precise day in the fifth grade.  Possibly the first day I was ever harassed by another person?  I couldn’t say.  For some reason, my mind very clearly recollected Booth Hill Elementary school’s cafeteria; I was standing at a small table that was placed in the middle of the room, serving as a condiment station.  A kid named Marty was standing across from me putting an unusual amount of mustard on his hotdog, which was a gross wonder to me.  As soon as he took his grub to go sit down, I was alone applying ketchup to my burger.  A kid named Matt approached me.  He walked up, assumed a wide stance, and cocked his head to the left REALLY obviously.  The look in his beady, shiny eyes and the smirk on his face seriously unsettled me.  I had no idea why he was posing like that and staring at me.  He started laughing, and looked back at his table of cronies.  I followed his gaze to their laughing faces and when I made general eye contact, they all mimicked his cocked head.  I instinctively went to cock my head to the side and realized, it was all ready in position.  My cheeks burned at the revelation.  Six boys, laughing at me.  That’s every 5th grade girl’s dream, eh?  I looked down at my soggy burger, slowly pulled my feet together to a more “normal” stance as opposed to my comfortable, gymnastics-induced wide one, and tried to hold my head as straight as possible.  The kid followed me all the way to my table with his head cocked before he finally let me off the hook.

To this day, I tilt my head to the right EVERY time I am thinking hard about something.  And when I’m bored, I’m liable to be lolling to the left.  I am naturally inquisitive and speculative of others; had I not been questioning Marty’s excessive mustard-usage, I would imagine that the incident would not have happened that day.

My interest in this anecdote is that I presently have no emotions about that day in the cafeteria.  I’m sure it hurt me pretty badly when it happened, but it is something that I only recalled by chance because I was too young to feel like a victim and carry the sentiment of that event around in my backpack as emotional baggage.  On the other hand, I find it is MUCH more difficult for me to purposely or involuntarily remember happy or good memories.

When we look back on our lives, most of us have the tendency to glamorize the memories of our past experiences, as fractured as those recollections are.  What sense does that make?  “Oh, I was so skinny the first time I thought I was fat.”  “I was so happy when I had such petty problems.”  “Everything was so much better when I was dating so-and-so.”  “I was so much less worried before.”  “I wish I could go back to being that way.”

What does all that really mean in the grand scheme of things?  Why not just enjoy the happy memories of the past that you are able to recall?  The odds are that they aren’t very accurate and that they only encapsulate a very small period of your life, which was also riddled with uglier truths that you either can’t remember or have convinced yourself weren’t around.  We all have a year that we think was “THE BEST YEAR OF MY LIFE!”  But when you really analyze the criterion for such a claim, most of the time it adds up to a few choice events within the span of three hundred and sixty five days, that are the exception as opposed to the norm.

With this in mind, I think that the idea of “taking it day by day” isn’t only a tool for the present, it’s something we should think about when analyzing our past experiences.  In terms of the present, it is a pretty underrated mantra, and I believe that taking into account the honest variability of the past will allow us to utilize a “day by day” approach to a much fuller extent.

*

Sidebar Anecdote:  Today I made my weekly run down the street to bring my recycling to the local elementary school, which plays host to my nearest public recycling receptacle.  I threw in the large stuff piece by piece, separating the newspapers for the other bin.  When my recycling box was left with nothing but smaller bits of paper and whatnot, I decided to expedite the process by lifting the box and emptying it with a shake.  LITTLE DID I KNOW, this would lead to yet another edition of “Leah: Why I stay inside.”  ONE small sandwich baggie escaped.  I turned my head down to see what got away, not even having reached the tall opening to empty the rest of the contents.  There he was.  One small bag, just sitting there next to my feet.  Obviously, it would have been counterproductive to allow it to escape, so I put down the box and went to grab the baggie and WHAT DO YOU KNOW, the slightest breeze picks up, sending my baggie tumbling along.  Okay, I think.  I start walking after it, judging by the lackadaisical nature of the breeze that it’s an easy snag.  Ho, ho.  The wind said, Naw, not fun enough.  Pursuit got hot, SO quick.  The wind picked up and next thing I know it, I’m at a jog.  The baggie protests and tumbles faster.  So now I’m at a full out sprint, attempting to corner ONE sandwich baggie, and I’ve nearly covered the length of the school’s parking lot.  I went full-Pele and did some full-extension foot taps, one of which finally landed with the baggie.  The breeze lets up JUST long enough to let me feel safe.  I release my foot to obtain the target, and the wind takes off again.  I shit you not, I chased that baggie to the street before I gave up.  Did I mention it was 98 degrees, humid, and my 12 year old Sofie shorts were steadily sliding down my hips to reveal my lily white ass to the world?  The icing on the cake?  There was some sort of function going on at the school, the parking lot was full, and I’ll be damned if no one saw my 1v1 with that generic ass sandwich bag.  So, if you see a video on the youtubes of a crazy chick chasing a baggie?  Yes, it is me.