Monday, July 25, 2011

Why Do "I" Have to Play Nice?

 At my age, I don’t have time to suffer fools.  

There is nothing cute about finding someone has used the last of the toilet paper, taken the last ice cube, or left the empty cereal box in the pantry for me to replace.

I do not find it cute when someone has eaten the garnish off the main dish before I served it to guests, or that they have taken a serving off the tray, or they picked a pineapple ring off the upside down cake.

It gets downright ugly when someone dares to drink my last diet Coke, helps themselves to the slice of dessert I was saving for snack, or eats the whole bag of chips without leaving me any.

I get vicious when people come in late to church or the movies then expect me to move over so they can have the aisle seat.  I think unholy thoughts when they get up continuously during the one-hour church service (For goodness sake, people, see a urologist!), step on my toes during a show (Wait for intermission!), or block my view of the winning basket (hey, Hey, HEY!) with their butts.

I find I Love Lucy episodes annoying, I don’t like Drew Carey in anything, and I really hate that celebrity stud from Austin who has made a career of starring in bachelor shows. (I refuse to learn his name.)

Say what you will, but if those fools aren't even aware of their inconsiderateness, why do I have to be nice?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Shania, Shameless Public Displays, and Jerry Springer

I watched two back-to-back TV episodes on the OWN Channel where Shania Twain whined about the demise of her marriage (and the loss of her singing voice), blaming the traitorous BFF who slept with her husband. 

When Shania claimed that the former BFF lured her “honorable” and “good natured” husband with her evil, womanly wiles, I turned off my TV and went in search of ice cream.  

It reminded me of the shameless public displays on the old Jerry Springer shows where women would fight over some unemployed, toothless bozo.

Shania, Shania, Shania, emotion and pride distorts our common sense and warps our intelligence. We do anything to assuage our hurt egos, but let’s call out the real traitor. 

What did you expect from a man named Mutt?  

Your “honorable” husband pledged a marriage contract with YOU.  Where was his honor when he broke it?  When he should have been sharing his “good-nature” with YOU, why was he with her? 

She "trampled" over the lines of BFF-ness and good taste, but she did not break the law. He did. Honey, the only one left to slap is Mutt – with a suit for divorce.  

It's also time to admit that what really hurt more than anything else was your ego. Ouch. (Love your music; hate your whining.)  Regardless what your fandom and your entourage would have you believe, not everyone buys your albums nor  do they want to sleep and be married to you. 

So stop it. Get over yourself. Show some backbone and join the ranks of real women who never humiliate themselves on public TV over nameless nobodies. They have better things to do – like headlining in Vegas, getting on with life, keeping their dignity.

Girlfriend, don’t just survive this fiasco, thrive.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Writing a Cleverly Crafted Sentence

Suggestion Nรบmero Uno

The sentence is an elegant invention; it communicates easily using logic, rhetoric, and grammar.  The tiniest sentence can measure one word (or less: “Wha.  . . ?”), but its length has no bounds (to date the longest has measured 469,375 words).

A well-constructed sentence is a thing of beauty.

The only way to improve one’s writing is by immersing oneself in the written language (by reading mentor texts for good examples), and by emulating good construction with practice (by copying a good sentence onto paper and substituting one’s own words onto the form).

Memorizing a myriad of grammar rules does not improve one’s writing; internalization comes only through deliberate study and use.

Since I want to learn how to construct better sentences, I search for those that pique my interest. I look for them in published writing, and I highlight them or make marginal notes. I study their form and practice them, using them in my own writing.

The next time you are reading a text, select a cleverly crafted sentence – one that you liked for its complex pattern or its use of punctuation - , and copy it vertically onto a sheet of paper (one word per line in a straight up and down column), then using that exact form and without changing its parts of speech or the punctuation marks, substitute your own text in a column next to it. (A noun for a noun, a verb for a verb, etc.) Work on your sample until each word has been substituted and your sentence flows easily and reads well. Do this several times with other mentor sentences.

The next time you work on your own manuscript, experiment with some of what you have learned. You will be surprised at the improvement in your writing, phrases, clauses, and punctuation will start doing new and wonderful things.

Monday, July 4, 2011

With the Eyes of an Immigrant

For years I taught English as a Second language to teenaged students, mostly recent immigrants to this country. Our lives intersected for a brief amount of time and they may not remember me, but they left a lasting impression in my life.   

One young boy from India marveled at the number of meals we ate in one day when his family was lucky to eat once. Another young man refused to turn in an autobiography, afraid of revealing what “he had to do” to escape Vietnam. Another one has haunted me to this day - a shy, undersized teen, the only son of a well-to-do Iraqi businessman, he cried when his family’s visa ran out in the late 1980’s and he had to return to his country to serve in the military. He was only fourteen.

Most of my ESL students came from poor families, and the most severe had never been inside a school before coming to America.  At home, a daily existence took priority over schooling. Most sought a better or safer future, but some just wanted one. 

Maybe that is how I should view the Fourth of July - not through sunglasses or with a sparkler in my hand, but with the eyes of an immigrant. I need to believe in the land of opportunity and refuge.  I need to be grateful for the long list of privileges it has afforded me and to remember that I have never wanted for my basic freedoms.