Doggie Breath

My dad always liked to say that we’re an “equal opportunity family.”

They’re black, I’m white. They’re 15 years old (or 105 in human years), I’m 20. They smell awful all the time from every orifice, I like to think that my odor is somewhat tolerable at least some of the time. They’re my sisters.

My sisters are two 14-year-old black labs.

My sisters are two 14-year-old black labs.

As an only child, they’re all I’ve ever had.

Tomorrow is the day they go to Heaven.

Losing both my sisters at the same time is something I’ve been dreading for a while. I’m trying to justify it in that Coco has been more and more wobbly lately, while she and Spooky have both been steadily losing control of their bowels.

I once read something online about why dogs’ lives are shorter than humans’. It was before a friend of mine’s dog died and I wanted to know how to comfort him when the time came. It said that people come into this world to learn how to live a good life, how to love one another, and it takes us a long time, roughly 70-80 years. But dogs are born knowing how to live and how to love so they don’t have to stay as long.

That’s the beauty in animals. Unconditional love.

Their love has kept my life so full for so long. It’ll be hard to let them both go at the same time, but their mom brought them into this world together so it’s only right that they should leave it the same way: together.

It’s really unfair that dogs can’t decide for themselves, when it’s their time to go. How can a person have the ability, burden even, to choose when the life of someone else ends?

My dad always said he would know when it was time for them to go because they’d be able to tell him. He’s not here now, so it’s been up to my mom and I. I just hope this unusually sunny day is dad saying he’s ready for them. It’s time. Send ’em up.

Spooky (red collar) and Coco (blue collar) taking a napDoggie breath is a wonderful smell that’s always followed by loving kisses.

I’m going to miss it.

What is love? (Baby, don’t hurt me)

So recently I’ve had a few inspirational experiences. I’m not sure if “inspirational” is the right word, but it’s all I have right now. I’ll spare you the gory details and maybe share some of my thoughts/reflections.

What is love? For centuries, millennia even, that question has befuddled the most intelligent of people. I like to think I have a pretty strong grip on the concept of love and maybe you’ll agree, maybe you won’t.

-Silvius, As You Like It by Shakespeare

Love. There doesn’t have to be an agreement where you see your loved ones every day. If you know in your heart that you love him/her and that she/he loves you back, that should be enough. Military families go months (years?) without seeing their loved ones. How is it that I see military couples, happily married after sending their loved ones off to serve over-seas dozens of times, still happily in love if seeing each other every day is a requirement of love? Oh wait, it’s not required. You just love someone. You miss them when they’re not there and you’re happy when you see them. That’s how it works.

Love. I think it’s supposed to be something you can have and do other things at the same time. Multitasking, people. Yes, college is a time when a person can and should spend time finding his/herself, who he/she truly is and what he/she truly believes. If you think that love is something that needs to be put on hold while you’re journeying to find yourself, or even vice versa, you’re wrong. I think that it’s an incredible gift to be able to share the most exciting, important journey of your life with your best friend and you should absolutely do these two things at the same time if you’re lucky enough to love someone during such a crucial turning point in your life. If you’re being true to yourself when you’re with that person you love, you should feel, not held back by their presence alongside yourself in this self-discovery, but rather even more fulfilled by their companionship.

“We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”

-Thomas Merton

In life, it’s normal to get lonely. When you truly love someone, you’re never actually alone. That person is in your heart, as awfully corny and clichéd as that sounds. With every action you take and every word you speak, that person is present whether they know that or not, but you know it, you never forget that.

At the point in my life where I’m really starting to find myself (so far I like to think I’m pretty independent and strong, but we’ll see) I don’t NEED the company of another to make my life complete, but I want it with my heart and soul and I go out-of-the-way to show it every day. I’m self-reliant, I’m self-sustaining, I’m ambitious, and I’m independent; that doesn’t mean I deserve to be alone.

The ambitious people deserve to be loved too.

Sorry if that was excessively ranty. Had to let it out. Thanks for sticking with me through my temper tantrum. I promise it doesn’t happen very often.

Thought Catalog: they’ve done it again

Thought Catalog posted a real winner again. This article describing one man’s negative, ignorant perspective on vaccinations comes only a month after a writer posted an awful piece on feminism under the pen name “Amy Glass.”
I posted a fierce response to the original feminism, but strangely anti-feminism post, here.

This “Amy Glass,” really one Chrissy Stockton, wrote later claiming that her article about why she’s not sorry for looking down on young women with husbands and children was actually written for the shock factor and to spark conversations.
Well, folks, it looks as though Thought Catalog is at it again. They really want to shock people into being angry. If that’s really their goal then they’re doing a decent job. I’ve yet to see a positive comment on the vaccine post.

Anyway, this is not another angry response to an infuriating post written by an uninformed ignoramus. I would rather talk about the Thought Catalog blog as a whole.

On its “About” page, Thought Catalog explains that it is owned by an “experimental media group based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, The Thought & Expression LLC. I’m guessing they mean “experimental” in that they’re sitting behind their laptop screens at work laughing at all the angry comments flooding their newest, most whiny, ranty posts written by their intentionally offensive writers (if you can call them as such). I hope they’re making spreadsheets, calculating and predicting how many innocent people they can aggravate correlated to the number of impressionable people they can manipulate.

One of the first posts I read on Thought Catalog, I must have agreed with or something because I remember it led me to their “About” page where I discovered the ideals of the blog. I remember wanting to steal them and use them for my own blog so badly. I still think they’re great ideal, but the fact that Thought Catalog shows complete disregard for these ideals lessens their impact on me greatly.

Ideals:

  1. Thought Catalog content should be fun, smart, and creative, i.e., entertaining, journalistic, and literary.

  2. The site should be beautiful and clutter-free.

  3. We believe all thinking is relevant and strive for a value-neutral editorial policy governed by openness. The more worldviews and rhetorical styles on the site, the better. We want to tell all sides of the story.

  4. We’re about today. But our mission is also archival. We want to catalog the times for tomorrow.

  5. We want to help shape culture by empowering you to share your ideas and stories with the world.

They really need to add a disclaimer in their ideals somewhere that says, “Most of these articles are written completely for our entertainment as we watch you mere mortals trip over your words in fury at what we’ve posted. Please don’t take anything we’re writing seriously because we’re blatantly wrong and we are completely aware of it.”

These ideals are what I strive for in my blog and I wish that an organization as reckless as Thought Catalog would not falsely claim these ideals as its own, when it doesn’t fully appreciate their impact or embrace their values.

That’s all I have to say for tonight. I’m really upset about what’s been happening with Thought Catalog lately.

Ctrl+F and the chronicles of Nerd Girl

Me (right) dressed up for Nerd Day in high school.

Me (right) dressed up for Nerd Day in high school.

Whenever someone asks “If you could have a super power, what would it be?” my response is always “I want to be able to use the Ctrl+F function of computers in real life situations.”

I loose things a lot, more like misplace things. I like to call what I do “hiding things from myself” and I’m really good at it. I once managed to lose an important paper my teacher passed out in class within a matter of seconds. I was holding it and the next second it was gone… I couldn’t find it anywhere and it actually really creeped me out. I never saw it again.

So the Ctrl+F function is my favorite thing about computers because it allows me to find anything I want without having to put in too much effort. Reading an essay for class and writing a follow-up paper on… let’s say women in the media? No problem. Use Ctrl+F to find whatever evidence you need to support your argument that women are underrepresented in the media, but they’re such bad asses.

So if it were possible, my super power would be to employ the function Ctrl+F in my daily life. I know what you’re thinking, “this girl must lose her keys all the time and hopes that she’ll be able to find them with Ctrl+F.” I will admit that at one point in my high school career, my parents had at least 10 back-up keys made for me because it was inevitable that I’d lose most of them. However cool it may be to not have to worry about where I’m putting things down, like my keys for example, I could use it for all sorts of things.

After I’ve found my third set of lost keys from high school,  maybe I’m pretty worn out and I’ve lost my motivation to do homework or study for the exam I have tomorrow. Losing my motivation happens frequently so if I were able to Ctrl+F to find the motivation to continue to do well in school and complete my assignments on time, that would be just wonderful.

Another problem I have fairly often is losing my direction in life. I know I want to save the world, but sometimes I just see myself working for a huge corporation that  cares about money and profit more than the well-being of society as a whole. I sometimes find myself conflicted in the way I picture myself in the future- what I’ll be doing, where I’ll be, who I’ll be with. If I could Ctrl+F to clarify what I’m really hoping to get out of life and how to get there, that would just be wonderful too.

Sometimes after making a poor decision or regretting the way I handled a situation, I fear that I’m losing touch with my values, who I am. That’s the scariest part of growing up. You’re finally beginning to figure out who you are and what that means, but you can’t guarantee from one day to the next that you’ll still want to be that person. What if the world sees your compassion and desire to please others as vulnerability and walks all over you. You’d become cynical. You’d lose touch with your values to compensate for your so-called vulnerabilities and fight back against the ones who are pushing you around. Sorry, I went on a rant because I’m experiencing a little bit of this right now in my life. So wouldn’t it be just wonderful to be able to press the Ctrl+F sequence on your keyboard to reaffirm your values and remind you why you value compassion and understanding- keeping you moving in the right direction!

BUT PLEASE don’t think I’m selfish. I would share my talents with anyone who needed them. I could help that underprivileged youth who’s lost his way and ended up in a dangerous situation to reevaluate his decisions and find his direction in life. I could help the corrupt politicians in the world find their values and use their positions of authority for the good of the whole people, to enact change that makes my job of saving the world a little easier. This power has so many useful applications in today’s world, I can’t even stand the fact that it’s not possible.

Saving the world with Ctrl+F. It’s my dream. You can call me Nerd Girl if you want.

Election night in Virginia and political blatherings

After D. Terry McAuliffe was elected Virginia’s new governor last night, I went on social media to see what people were saying about it, which I never feel like doing because people are jerks to each other when it comes to politics. I found a comment under a post on the Facebook page for libertarian candidate for governor that made me smile. I love when I discover that there are sensible people in this world.

Mr. G (as I will refer to him so as not to compromise his identity) said, “I too have learned valuable lessons through ‘wasted’ votes. For the first half of my political life I wasted votes on Democrat candidates who promised social liberty and delivered scandal and financial ruin. The second half of my political life, I wasted my votes on Republican candidates who promised fiscal responsibility and delivered foreign entanglements and declared war on civil liberties. Never again! In 2012 I cast my vote for Gary Johnson for President, and for the first time, felt clean when I left the voting booth. Never again will I be persuaded to cast a vote out of fear of ‘the Other Guy!’
Robert Sarvis has EARNED my vote. It was not gained through fear, or bribery. It was indeed earned through commitment, conviction, candor and character. Sarvis is the best man for the job, and the ONLY candidate who is truly devoted to the cause of Liberty for ALL Virginians.”

If you don’t know about the (cough… cough… largely incapable… cough) candidates for governor in Virginia, may I refer you to this reputable resource of political goings-on, a clip from a recent episode of the Daily Show.

I’ve never come out and voiced any sign of a political affiliation on social media before: partly because I don’t have very strong political opinions and partly because I’m a journalist and I want to appear unbiased to others. I don’t like to choose sides in arguments because I usually can see the merit in both perspectives; however, after the comment I read last night I gained a whole new perspective on my political views, if you can call them that, and the political system itself. I don’t have strong political affiliations nor do I have religious affiliations, but I do have good morals and that’s what I look for in people I vote for, people I’m friends with, and organizations with which I associate.

That’s the end of any kind of political input I will ever have on a form of social media so if you’re looking for some kind of passionate, heated argument in support of or against someone in a political office, don’t get your hopes up. I just get really frustrated when these sort of things, like corrupted politicians, get in my way of saving the world. It seems like every day my to-do list toward my goal of saving the world gets longer. But thanks for reading!

To see a picture of me with Al Madrigal of the Daily Show when he came to Virginia Tech to cover the last round of gubernatorial debates, click here.

Professional or Hobbyist?

After reading this post by suzie81 Professional or Hobbyist?, I accepted her challenge.

She asks, “Does somebody earn the right to call themselves a writer if they have been published once? Does a piece of work have to be published in a nationally or internationally recognised forum in order for it to be recognised as valid?

But what do you think? Do you refer to yourself as a ‘blogger,’ ‘poet,’ ‘writer’ or photographer? At what point do you feel it is acceptable to use these terms?”

I’ve asked myself the question and it does present some conflict. I call myself a student, a Resident Advisor, a daughter, a girlfriend, and the list goes on. But when I’m done with the obvious list of roles I have and it comes time to have the internal discussion about whether I can consider myself a “writer” or a “blogger,” I have an internally awkward, self-judging moment.

I write for the Collegiate Times newspaper on a weekly basis. I love to write news articles. I love to write period. Does that make me a writer? When I send emails to potential sources of information for a story, I introduce myself as a writer for the CT. In my signature at the bottom of the email “News Reporter, Collegiate Times” always follows “Resident Advisor.” Why shouldn’t I refer to myself as a writer. It is my passion, isn’t it? Isn’t writing what everyone has always wanted me to pursue in my life? But how can I put myself on the same level as George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, Hemingway, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, William Faulkner, and J.K. Rowling. How dare I bestow upon myself the same label these people have claimed for themselves. All the recognition, all the dedication, all the passion I think it should take to steal that word for my own use will never be with me. Can I still call myself a writer? Is it wrong? Is it disrespectful to the greats? Or is everyone a writer, just on different levels? I’d like to call myself a writer, but then I feel guilty. I mean, I write. Still, I feel guilty when calling myself a “writer.”

Blogging is an entirely different monster. I do “blog,” but am I a “blogger?” It’s a similar debate; however, the internet seems so much more accessible to anyone than does publishing a printed work.

I am a college student, and a business major at that. I’m still only a teenager. I know most grammatical structures and can edit my friends’ papers fairly well. When, if ever, will I be able to call myself a writer? When, if ever, will I be able to call myself a blogger?

The truth that I know deeply is that it’s not the published works that determine one’s status as a writer. It’s the innate ability to translate thoughts into somewhat coherent words and feel relief at the page (or online post) holding the words you couldn’t stand to bear any longer. I am a writer because I see the world differently. I cannot paint a picture of the day I had in paint, but I can use words to illustrate what I need to convey to myself and to others. I can string words together like a song, but I cannot rap about society and politics in a bold and colorful way. I’m a writer because I find joy in the strategic arrangement of words. It’s not so much that I even love to write, it’s more that I feel a need to write. Despite the rejection and the painful criticism, from others, but more so from oneself, I’m a writer because I’m different in the ways that I want to continue being different.

I’m a writer because I don’t have to be, but I am anyway.

Confessions of my teenage smoke screen…

I have something that I really need to get off my chest. I hate writing. I hate it because I’m scared of it.

I’m self-conscious of my narrative voice when it comes out too obnoxiously or not at all and my writing starts to sound like it belongs in a professional email. I’m scared that people are judging me, especially when I share my blog posts and news articles over social media. I’m scared that I don’t write often enough and that I’ll lose my talent, whatever talent I have. I’m worried that I don’t see or feel my so-called talent at all, that I only consider myself talented in writing because of what others have told me. I’m worried they’re just being nice by saying that I’m a good writer. I’m scared because I don’t believe them. I’m scared of my high expectations of myself. I’m scared of failure.

I love my blog and I love writing for the Collegiate Times. I love putting thoughts into words with a passion, so much so that it actually becomes a huge source of anxiety for me. I want my “baby,” my creation, to be absolutely perfect. I want my whole heart and soul to shine through my words and fill those reading it with warmth and strength. I want to affect change. I want to inspire people. I have unreasonably high expectations of my writing, as well as every other aspect of my life. I expect every news article and every blog post I write to be profound and moving. I feel like unless my writing is philosophical or ontological, it’s really not worth anyone’s time. If the words don’t transcend the simple, superficial ideas most writers find in writing prompts, if the words don’t have some sort of deeper, affecting meaning, why write it at all? Any writer could tell a story of the date of his/her dreams. I’m not special. But I cling to the simplicity of my experiences, no matter how trivial, because they’re easy- unsatisfying, but easy. I’m too scared to aim higher, to explore more meaningful, more fulfilling topics. I’m scared of a grand failure. I’m scared that my experiences don’t warrant wisdom or the discussion of complex ideas; I’m nineteen. Simple ideas are safer. But then who cares about my first day of school and what it meant for me?

And who am I writing for?

I feel that I’m too reliant on the recognition of others. I thrive on the numbers; page views and comments.

Are the readers who I’m writing for?

Shouldn’t I be writing for me?

Or should I be writing for the idea, because I feel passionate about something?

I have so many thoughts buzzing around inside my head that when it actually comes time to write, I become overwhelmed. I can’t write. I won’t write. I don’t write.