For When You Need a Little Perspective

Wake up, ready to start the day. Lay around in bed until 7:30am (wow, that’s late for the person with an infallible internal alarm clock that thinks it’s perfectly acceptable to be up at 6:15am every morning).

Roll out of bed and peer into the empty refrigerator. “I really should put some effort into grocery shopping.”

Grab a juice box, hand delivered by the mailman from an Amazon order. Shopping made easy.

Open up your laptop, pull out your (gifted) iPad, and somehow lose two hours of your life to clicking and scrolling.

On Netflix, sink into a BBC series that you’ve seen a million times. On Facebook, notice several friends have achieved some career/home/life accolades and make sure you feel SO BEHIND.

The facebook encounter will get you in a tizzy, so much so, that you must immediately seek out an edible item made primarily of chocolate to soothe your case of the grumpies. You make it to Starbucks, pay for a chocolate croissant and smush it into your face in the time it takes to inhale three solid breaths.

Then, feel guilty because you’ve started today with sugar and carbs instead of healthy, non-dairy, non-gluten, non-taste-organic, “Los Angeles typical” fare.

Spend too much time in your day fretting over the submissions you’ve made to various entertainment festivals, fellowships, and competitions. It’s not un-like waiting to hear back on college admission. You submit. They take way longer than you thought humanly possible to decide, and either accept or reject you with a short note mentioning how steep the competition was and how everyone can’t make it in.

You putter around, wasting gas, but feel ok about it because it’s improving your overall mental state. Plus, you drive the Prius so can be a tiny smug about sending less emissions to float over our heads in the smog-ridden-valley that we call home.

You recall that this Sunday, you’ll be nannying so that your bosses can head to the Emmy’s and you wish YOU were going–you’re tired of watching the industry from behind the diaper bag. You want to be a PART of it beyond keeping the kids of the actors and agents and producers safe and sound while THEY work.

You brainstorm ideas for a new film project while you drive, but lament the fact that you can’t write anything down because TWO HANDS ON THE WHEELS, PLEASE. And buying a tape recorder to talk into would just feel silly.

Half the day is wasted away, so you start to feel guilty about that, too.

Why does it always seem like the walls are falling in and you’re not getting the opportunities you need in order to break into your chosen field?

Why is life so hard?

Why can’t it be easier for YOU in particular?

WHY YOU?!

And then…you get this text message from the other nanny at your new job:

Can you please come to work for me.

(…)

I  have to go home, to Guatemala.

(…)

They killed my nephew, his wife, their child, and I’m taking the next flight out.

Your body goes numb but you text back that you’re on your way and you jump into your car. You guide your fancy hybrid car onto the street. You lift that over-priced cup of coffee out of the cupholder and note that your belly is full. You turn on the music through your bluetooth feature from your expensive iPhone. You note that, though you live in a city with a history of crime and gangs, it’s possible to walk down the street in your part of town without the threat of getting shot. You note that your family and friends are safe and sound in suburbia or in other big cities–still safer than in 90% of other countries in this world. You listen to the music, realize that you have a wonderful and privileged life, and can’t believe how fitting the first song you hear is:

Would you please take me away from this place
I cannot bear to see the look upon your faces
And if there is some kind of god do you think he’s pleased
When he looks down on us I wonder what he sees
Do you think he’d think the things we do are a waste of time
Maybe he’d think we are getting on just fine
Do you think he’s skint or financially secure
And come election time I wonder who he’d vote for

Ever since he can remember people have died in his good name
Long before that September
Long before hijacking planes
He’s lost the will he can’t decide
He doesn’t know who’s right or wrong
But there’s one thing that he’s sure of this has been going on too long

Do you think he’d drive in his car without insurance
Now is he interesting or do you think he’d bore us
Do you think his favourite type of human is caucasian
Do you reckon he’s ever been done for tax evasion
Do you think he’s any good at remembering people’s names
Do you think he’s ever taken smack or cocaine
I don’t imagine he’s ever been suicidal
His favourite band is Creedence Clearwater Revival

Ever since he can remember people have died in his good name
Long before that September
Long before hijacking planes
He’s lost the will he can’t decide
He doesn’t know who’s right or wrong
But there’s one thing that he’s sure of this has been going on too long

Ever since he can remember people have died in his good name
Long before that September
Long before hijacking planes
He’s lost the will he can’t decide
He doesn’t know who’s right or wrong
But there’s one thing that he’s sure of this has been going on too long

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A Lesson in Language and Cookies

I’ve noticed, lately, that I have a few (read: many) friends on Facebook that consider themselves “Grammar Nazis”. Horrible references to one of the most destructive and disgusting political parties aside, these people drive me insane. If I miss a comma or accidentally replace “your” with “you’re”, it seems as if my post is completely negated. Instead of commenting on the content, my little Word Wizard pals will comment on the construction of my sentences.

In a forum where my status updates are competing with a myriad of cat photos and Sponge Bob Memes, I’d think it’d be safe to make a few grammatical errors here and there.

Which got me to thinkin’.

Which, if you know me, can be dangerous.

No danger, here, though, because I recalled a blog written by The Wonderful Joe Kessler, Ph.D. student, University at Buffalo, Linguistics.  He’s someone I follow on Twitter and also happen to know personally. Give that link a click and you’ll be directed to his Tumblr which has saved me from internet boredom more than once.

Over on Joe’s Linguistics Blog, I saw a post that instantly piqued my interest. As an English major I, of course, love words but even more than that, I love COOKIES.

This post had both. And it also validated my feelings re: language and the liberties that I often take with it:

“Imagine you have a favorite recipe for making cookies. You learned it from your grandmother, and you have always made cookies this way. You think they’re the best dessert in the world, and people regularly compliment you on them when you bring them to parties. You understandably take great pride in your baking — but would you insult someone else’s cookies, or denounce their recipe as illegitimate?

One hopes the answer would be no, but people take this attitude towards other people’s language every single day. As I’ve argued before, anything that someone says or writes on purpose is a correct use of language, just like every cookie recipe out there is a correct use of baking. Unfortunately, some uses of language are often considered incorrect, and I think there are two main reasons for that.”

Do yourself a favor and click over to his page and read this post in its entirety. And if you are a member of the group that I mentioned above, do me a favor and step off of my prose, son!

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She Put that on Facebook?– a Look at Internet “Etiquette”

The other day, I was introduced to the term “social media etiquette” when Facebook founder Mark Z’s sister, Randi Zuckerburg, complained about having her privacy violated by someone on the site.

Does internet etiquette really exist?

It’s undeniable that we’ve entered into an era of over share. The advent of social media has guaranteed that one can divulge previously taboo content, controversial topics, and completely mundane and unimportant life happenings in 20 different ways: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr––the sky’s the limit.

Feeling fired up about your political party or any other topic that you wouldn’t otherwise discuss in person among friends in order to maintain those friendships?

POST IT.

Dancing in your underwear because you’re home alone?

POST IT.

Your kid make their first poop in the potty?

POST IT. And make sure to include a picture.

(And yes. These are all things that I have had pop up on various newsfeeds.)

I wonder if people stop and think about how their content changes people’s perception of them. I know I certainly do. I’ve noticed there are several different personalities that one can come across on the interwebs. Here are a few:

  • The Rager: in person, this friend may be quiet, meek, or mild. On the internet, they’re a great big ball of rage and complaints. You can’t help but wonder what the heck is truly bothering them that they have to bring down everyone reading their status. “My boss spilled his potato soup in the microwave AGAIN. Ugh, I want to quit my job and punch all of these people in the face!”

  • The Grammar-Phobe: I’m not talking about the occasional “no” for “know” or missed punctuation. You wonder how this friend passed elementary school with statuses riddled with comma splices and spelling mistakes that not even 2nd grade students have the gall to make. Not even the Rosetta Stone can help you decipher the code they’re writing in (because it’s certainly not English). “Wher do yo thnik we are gunna go shoping today..who nos”. Why has autocorrect failed them so horribly?

  • The Braggart: oftentimes nauseating with the amount of optimism and “glass half full” attitude, it seems like these people have the answers to everything and never experience the normal lows of life. “It’s 200 degrees outside but my popsicle isn’t melting!” “I tripped walking down the street and realized I had just fallen on top of a briefcase full of cash!” Are they really being honest with their friends, here?

Full disclosure when it comes to the braggart: I’m guilty as charged. Very rarely will I post something negative or talk about that awful-thing-that-changed-my-life on social media. The reasons are two-fold:

  1. There’s an unimaginable amount of schadenfreude out there. People love a train wreck and can’t seem to look away when someone is self-destructing. Someone’s relationship status changes on Facebook? Here comes the slew of people prying into their dating life. Complaining openly about your job? People will start a count-down until you get canned for that bad attitude.
  2. People are already bogged down in their own problems. Who am I to chuck my woes on top of their pile? I hate walking away from Twitter or Facebook feeling heavier than when I came because there is so much anger and sadness ticking across my pages.

Ultimately, my feelings on the existence of “social media etiquette” is that it doesn’t. There is no governing body of the internet that says what’s proper for operating on social media–at least not one that truly enforces it. In the end, though, I think it’s the individual user’s prerogative. We all have to use our own moral compass to decide what we’ll include in our own definitions of “internet etiquette”.

So go ahead and post those filtered pictures of your vegan, gluten-free, quinoa and basil soup.

Just don’t try to get me to eat it.

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