Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Austen friends, remember Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice? He was one odd dude, but his main point in life, even in dating a Bennet sister, was to please other people. He was ridiculous in his efforts to make everyone around him like him, going as far as to write down little compliments that he thought of in order to remember them and use them later when the right moment arose.

Meet Dale Carnegie.

Don't get me wrong. As I read the book, I listened closely to the more-than-adequate instructions on how to win friends and even influence people without causing contention or disgruntlement. About halfway through the book, however, I started imagining the person following this advice to a tee or to an extreme, and I only saw Mr. Collins.

It's a fine line to walk: trying to please people and trying to be genuine. Actually, that was a subject addressed in the book. My final recommendation is to read it and follow its advice, but don't turn into Mr. Collins by so doing. Nobody likes Mr. Collins, not even his wife.

Friday, August 23, 2013

On Poetry

I wish people would write real poetry these days.

I keep up with quite a few blogs, and I try to find contemporary poetry to use in my classroom, but the truth is, people just don't write good poetry these days. It's all unstructured nonsense.

Where are the Wilfred Owens? Where are the Elizabeth Brownings? Where are the Emily Dickinsons, the Siegfried Sassoons and the Alfred Tennysons?

Where is all the good poetry these days? That is a real question. If you know where to find good poetry, tell me.

And I'm not talking about the stupid stream of self centered drivel that everyone is putting out. There's plenty of poetry out there, but nothing of substance. It's all:

"I walked
and saw
no one else
my soul
and I
and cried
because it was
and green, like lemons.
Take it,
Of course
you can't,

There's nothing interesting about thoughtlessness anymore. I don't see any art in it, not when things like:

"The cherry trees bend over and are shedding
On the old road where all that passed are dead
Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding
This early May morn when there is none to wed"

exist and beg to be read and thought about for years on end. I don't see any point in bothering to study that which has no substance. It gives me no pleasure and doesn't seem to enrich me whatsoever. We've finally proven that thoughtless literature can exist (thank you postmodernism, your mission is accomplished), but to what end?

I hereby declare the death of postmodernism. Bring back structure to poetry! I demand a real poem!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Real Freedom is Not Independence

Depending on other people allows you the freedom to do what you want to do.

Think about it.

If you want to go on vacation, someone is gong to need to watch your children, dog, thermostat, car, whatever. If you have no friends, no one will be able to do that for you. You will not be free to do what you want to do.

If you have a disease and no one knows how to take care of you except for you, you may not be able to go hiking, biking, swimming, or traveling because of fear from what may happen if you have an asthma attack, low blood sugar, or seizure and no one knows how to take care of you in the strange place. (Additionally, you are enslaved by fear. Independent, but fearful. So, .... not free).

If you have children or a dog or simply do not have anorexia, and you independently feed your children, your dog, and you, then you are not free to do anything other than prepare meals when those times come. That's a lot of time consumed by meals, by the way. Relying on someone else to prepare food for you gives you additional freedom to do what you want to do during that time.

However, having friends you can depend on gives you the freedom to do these things and more. By being dependable, you can have more people upon which to depend. The more people in your life upon whom you can depend, the more time you have to do what you want to do, and therefore, the more freedom you have.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why I Liked Warm Bodies (Spoiler alert!)

1. It was an appropriate parody of "Twilight," and as you already know, I hate that stuff, so ...parody on.

2. It had a balcony scene, as in, Romeo-and-Juliet style. Gotta love a good Shakespeare allusion, and Romeo as a zombie? Fitting.

3. I was impressed with the writing, especially R's monologue in the beginning. It was witty.

4. The music was good.

5. It actually had an interesting message: there's a funny moment during the opening monologue when R pines for a time when people weren't zombies in the airport where he lives, and therefore could talk. He described it as being "warm" and "connected," and while he mentions this, the visual shows a flashback of how things were before the disease: everyone was on a cell phone or other device, no one was talking to each other or even making eye contact, and it was not a place of warm conversation and connectivity. It was not very different, aside from the undead-ness, from the way it was for the zombies.

 The cure for the zombie disease ends up being human connectivity, so the commentary seems to be that we are currently diseased by our dependence on devices, as they tend to separate us more than connect us, and need to fix our communities and families by talking to each other face-to-face and showing kindness to each other. I like that!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Turn Signals and Boxes

This is a rambler, folks.

My life is like a TV show.

There are 2 kinds of tv shows out there: the kind that have arch stories that take place over many episodes (like Gossip Girl, Once Upon a Time, or Grimm), and those that have stories that are completely contained in one episode (like Gilligan's Island, Hey Arnold, or Green Acres).

My life is like the latter.

No matter how hard I try, I feel like nothing really changes in my life. There are things I would really like to change, too, like: living in an apartment, not having and children, or eating cereal for dinner. I get to critical points where I get excited and think: "yeah, now things are going to really get shaken up around here!" but alas, I lie to myself every time. By the end of the episode, I am always back to square one: living in a box, alone, and eating LIFE even though I'm not living it.

At least, that's how I feel sometimes. But in another light, my life is ALWAYS changing.

Of the people who I see on a daily basis, I met none of them before August, 2012. I have a dog now. I don't share my bedroom with another lady, and! I have a REAL job!

I don't know if it's good or bad, but there it is. When changes DOES happen, it rarely happens with warning. I feel like almost every change that I anticipate in life goes a different way than I thought it would, and changes that I think I'm making happen just don't happen at all. There is no point in using your turn signal if you're already in the next lane, nor if you're not actually going to make any turns.

It all feels so pointless and dolor.

Do you remember The Truman Show? There's this one part where he tries to get out of town, and every road out is blocked by something. At the end of the day, he has to go back home. Do you ever feel like Truman? Like everything is fake?

Sometimes, when I'm in a room with florescent lights, I feel like I am not in reality, but rather in a painting or a dream. It just doesn't seem real. Then I wonder, what is reality, anyhow? How can I be sure that I'm in it? Have you ever asked yourself that question?

Sometimes I think, "I just need a new hobby," or, "it's this weather!" but then, at other times, I realize: I live inside a box. That just isn't natural.

Then I go outside for a little bit. I might even take a drive out into the mountains or to the river. I sit outside for a little bit, and things start to fall back into place.

We just weren't meant to live in boxes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Songs of War

I have a confession to make: I have seen every episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation. Yes, I am a closet Trekker. Not only that, but on some unfortunately uncontrollable level, it has shaped my world view. That's what the media does to children, okay?

I think I would hate this show if I watched it for the first time today. But I didn't; I watched it for the first time when I was a toddler. We watched it as a family. It was fascinating. I didn't choose the Trekkie life, the Trekkie life chose me!

Star Trek does this thing where it makes cultural references, be they pop or other, as if they were so impactful that they would still be germane 400 years from now.

Confession #2: I love Celtic music and culture almost as much as I love my own culture.

When I was a little girl (again with the youth!) I decided to get a tiny, little bit obsessed about a few things: Prince William, Thundercats, ancient Egypt, and Celtic music/culture.

In fact, I recently went to a Flogging Molly concert, but that's another post altogether.

As an English teacher, of course I love listening for and watching the Shakespeare references in Star Trek, but I really got excited when they sang "The Minstrel Boy" in this episode, because it is a slightly more obscure reference. I love this song. It is so sad, so noble, and so beautiful.

Gotta love those text-to-text connections!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Nostalgic Acrostic

Here is an acrostic I wrote as a model for my creative writing class today:


Behind the house,
A swing set dances:
Revolving with the rhythm of children's legs
Never caring that the day is closing,
Here now, but gone tomorrow.
Are they going to
Realize before it ends
That childhood is golden?

And here's one that I wrote as an example before class started:

Hey man, what's your problem?
Everyone is asking.
If you want to change your life,
Do it!
I'm serious!