Saturday, May 18, 2013
There must be many, many people all over the world who have experienced some feeling of strong emotion and simply wanted to shout what they were feeling from a roof top. Many. To be more accurate, I'd dare say, most. And, that emotional feeling may range anywhere from getting a fantastic end-of-year school report to being wronged by a conniving co-worker (worse, boss). It may have come from having your heart broken by the love of your life and you wanted to let everyone - including his mother - know that the things he told them about you in the end that made you seem all crazy and clingy were not true and you just want to set the record straight because he must have left out the part where he... Oh! Umm, I digress.
Ahh, yes. That elusive roof top. Until now! For, behold, dear reader, Social Media.
As I thought about the series of posts for this month (don't hold me to it; sometimes it pops into my head as a series and sometimes it doesn't), I imagined that there was room for a three-fer: making your mark on life through postings/writings; how social media is that roof top from which we shout and scream and show off and gwaan bad / get on bad, and, finally, how there are those among us who write for a cause - whether political, educational, inspirational, etc.
As I pondered "Social Media As Roof Top", however...wait. Look at that. SMART. Sheer buck-up. And, oh the irony. Anyway, I couldn't help but think how neatly it fit. I don't think I have to expound on the idea. Once you make the link, you'll get it. All that's needed is to make sure that the person or persons you'd like to shout at (not to be confused with giving a shout out to) are no more than, say, two degrees of separation. And, nothing shouts "disclaimer" like a subtext/subtweet or two.
So, without the need to carry on with that point and beat the dead horse to glue, I'm moving to that last bit - and save the next post for something related.
Many write for any of the afore-mentioned (or other) causes. Of course, there's no way I get to read all these blogs. But, now and again, whether because of my job or someone sends me a link or something pops up on my Twitter timeline or the al-things-to-all-people Yahoo!, I get wind of some pretty interesting and insightful material. Remember the quote attributed to Plato? "Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something." Yeah, it's like that. The dedication and thought applied is evident in these writing. It is clear that these folks are here to help; to make you think; to inspire; to encourage and so on. What usually happens is that once you start tuning in to a particular blogger, you tend to look forward to his/her material. And, that's another aspect of that conscious writing - the discipline to keep at it. Of course, life happens. But, generally speaking, they can be relied upon for some good work.
(I got wind from @MizDurie - whose politically provocative blog is at www.facebook.com/ThinkJamaica - that May 23, (Labour Day in Jamaica), will be recognized by many Jamaican bloggers and social media peeps as Jamaica Blog Day - Blog Action Day. According to @JaBlogDay, it will be "focused on police and security forces abuse in Ja." For the post on the 28th, I hope to provide links to those bloggers who participated in the event.)
Shout out to all you bloggers who do good work! We're learning from you. I'm learning from you. For all you've done so far, thank you.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
“Sue was here but now she’s gone. She left her name to carry on.”
Ah, yes. The timeless signature in the toilet stall. These, and others like it, were what would greet me as I did my business in the toilet stalls back in primary school. There were fewer in high school - stall signatures, i.e. At our high school (Wolmer’s Girls’ School) we were constantly reminded that we were ladies. (This didn't stop some who’d get their crassness fix, evidenced by a few scribbles – and other unmentionables. I digress.) Usually, the notes seemed to be written kind of lopsided, as if the author had done the scribing as she (and, I imagine the same was for the boys, so, he) was on the throne. Always, though, the unwritten rule: No overlapping. So, each notation of presence, “carved in stone” – until the next coat of paint – was not only as legible as could be. No, it was also written with enough space between itself and its neighbours. After all, if you’re trying to stand out, why would you go for fusion?
Surely, there were also love notes as well as the ones that would not be fit for polite company. But, those aside, I was thinking recently that we, (I mean, people in general), have come a long way from stamping our names on the timeline of humanity via toilet stalls. Pretty sure it’s still done, but, gettn to a point here. I’m also sure there were practices that preceded that one. Whatever they were, from generation to generation, the authors mainly have been after one primal thing: making their mark.
We all have a desire to not be forgotten. As well, there’s an inherent desire in each of us to stand out; do something unique; be distinguishable and memorable. Some go for the weird. (I think I wrote about that in a post a few years ago during Charlie’s elongated “Winning!” moment. Maybe we could safely include many of those wacky stunts dressed up as reality TV.) Some go for the bad. (Public shooters in mass killings, for example, come to mind.) Others go for none of the above and try, in some other way, to distinguish themselves. And, when that’s done, it’s tied in with the desire to be remembered.
Funny thing is, as the quote goes, “No one on his deathbed has ever said, ‘I wish I’d spent more time at the office,’” the memories that likely matter to most of us would be those had by loved ones after our timely departure from this weary sod. In that moment, would we really care whether we were responsible for finding the cure for cancer? OK. We might care about that. But, y’know? All the achievements and what not, how far down the list of priorities would they be – if they made the list at all – in terms of what we want to be remembered for and whom we’d want to be remembered by?
I guess life’s like that. (This is not where I intended to be when I started this post.) We get here. We have dreams and goals and work hard to achieve them and do. But, in the end, it’s really the relationships and the love that matter.
So, where had I intended to go? That social media have provided us with new, freshly painted, ever-expanding walls on which to write. There’s a lot of space for those individualistic notes – and write away we do. Sometimes, given the ease of access to our material/notes and the speed with which they can be shared, we have to indicate that we’re quoting ourselves when we quote ourselves!
I dare say that for some, writing these notes is not so much about making a mark on the frail human fabric of life. Nor is it about doing something to be remembered by. Instead, it’s simply a way to grasp life in manageable pieces; to keep from being overwhelmed; to keep from suffocating.
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Alas, the final post for this here poetry month. Not to worry, the poetry continues - as it rightly should. And, as it inevitably will.
Shifting Moral of the Story
So smitten was I with the way
You moved me,
In no time I let you in.
In no time I was driven
To satisfy as you desired
And, so soon I became mired
In the mix of love and hate
You were so deft to create.
People and things I loved
Which is to say, for me,
They became summarily
Insufficient, compared to you,
Your attention. Your love was new
But, in time, grew thin
Scarce affections without and within.
By the time I awoke
You had gone.
Deserted - cradling my new normal -
To face the shifting moral
Of the story. Which one?
They all end in the same song
I gave up everything to make you stay
But you left, anyway.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Aaand the poetry continues... Here's another from the Lit Café last month.
Your words to me signalled an unbearable finality
I didn't want to hear them, but, I had to hear you out
I had to hear you say that this was, indeed, the end.
You did. And, it was.
The end of us -
The end of us and we and our.
One call. Five minutes.
Years of heartache.
I grieved my loss in silence
I petted my sorrow in my bosom of discontent
What little words I found within and without
I used to mop up tears of anguish.
And, when the words were full
I'd wring them out again.
Nobody tells you it's like dying.
I had heard you. Loud and clear. I was there.
But I felt better, safer, in denial.
My anger seethed and I drowned it in drink,
And ink - never to you.
I tried bargaining - I called. I wrote. You would have none.
How I got the courage to
Fulfill that pre-death obligation
Remains a mystery to me.
Fifty people at that party, and I'd never felt more alone.
On the way home - and at home - I cried.
What did you do? And how?
Me? I'm still working on accepting that we've died.
Monday, April 8, 2013
It's poetry month. Yaaay! During this month I will happily share a poem on each blog day. These three are the ones I read at the Lit Cafe I attended last month. Today's poem:
Sometimes I sit and stare at nothing
And nothing stares back.
Nothing can help me with this hurt
I carry in my heart, my mind, my spirit.
Nothing says this is just a dream
A horrible dream that will soon end
Nothing stares back.
Nothing listens to the sound of my tears
Dripping on my pillow both morning and night
Making their way through the fibres
Until they can run no more
Trapped in an endless weave of
An unfamiliar maze.
Nothing knows how that feels.
You left me with nothing
I have the scent of the pillow next to mine
And nothing smells like it -
Your sweet body mixed with shampoo -
I can almost taste it
As I can almost taste your kiss.
And nothing tastes quite like it.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
“You know what getting married is? It's agreeing to taking this person who right now is at the top of his form, full of hopes and ideas, feeling good, looking good, wildly interested in you because you're the same way, and sticking by him while he slowly disintegrates. And he does the same for you. You're his responsibility now and he's yours. If no one else will take care of him, you will. If everyone else rejects you, he won't. What do you think love is? Going to bed all the time?”
- Jane Smiley
- Jane Smiley
I loved it the moment I read it. Shared it in a few consecutive tweets, too. When I got to the end, I kinda wanted to answer, "So, ummm, wait...what?" Lol! As a friend of mine said to me sometime last year, love alone isn't enough [for marriage]. And, whaddya know? Turns out that the make-up of the love itself might be different than what you had long envisioned.
All these things. (As a sis would say.) My thoughts turned to "these things" as I pored over almost two decades of writing the other night. Like, seriously. I'm gonna have to stop writing! ....... Hahahahahahahaha! I crack me up! Too funny! Okay. By that I mean... Actually, nothing comes to mind. Here's the thing. Perhaps I could just keep doing what I'm doing and, after a while, see what needs to go. Fast. And, unceremoniously. Because, well, I tend to keep it all. I'm gonna resist the temptation to list some of the things I've kept since nineteen long time.
I'm not a hoarder, per se. Hmm. Reminds me of a preview of "Hoarders" that was being shown repeatedly in the run-up to the broadcast date. As the woman in the clip cast a glance at the mountain of stuff in her house, she summed up her life's philosophy in this memorable piece: "I wouldn't say I'm a hoarder. I'm a rescuer of things." Uh-huh.
My defence? I hold on to, and take care of, the things that mean a lot to me. Those "things" would include the pages and pages of thoughts on my friendships and relationships and interactions and passing fancies... When I came across the ones spanning about four months in 1996, I just knew that their retention period was up. And, it's not as if I had ever planned to have a retention period for these reams and wads and stacks of paper and books. I just figured I'd keep writing until I could no longer hold a pen or pencil to paper (including napkins, restaurant receipts...). What would family I'd have left behind do with the lot? No idea. I imagine, my life being spared, that it might be a good idea to put some instructions down somewhere. I mean, I still dream of becoming a world-renowned writer. In years to come, perhaps long after I'm gone, those pieces may very well become highly sought-after relics.
So, what caused me to ditch that batch? Quite simply, it was ugly. I felt like I was fingering a scar that I had somehow discovered a new fascination for. And, as I passed my finger over it, I couldn't resist picking at it then digging away at it. Like I was trying to figure out why and how I got that mark in the first place. And, for those twenty or so minutes that I dug and read - after a while I skimmed - I began to feel sickish. I no longer held it dear and it meant nothing to me now. There was no answer coming to complete the "I need to hold on to this because...". I did have a very ready answer for why it needed to go. There was no longer a place for such ugly in the beauty of the now.
There were no second thoughts. It was one of those things that, when you're doing it, or about to do it, you just know it's right. It's even beyond the realm of knowing to just being right. No long prayer, just time to act. So, I rolled up the papers, put 'em in my bag and took them to my workplace the following day. (Felt I needed to use the shredder that minces paper.) And, quite unceremoniously, I pulverized them!
After all, there are new things that are springing forth; new things for me to hold dear and take care of. The beauty of the now shall be clutter-free. I gotta make room for the new things to grow. For, apparently, love is more than "going to bed all the time."
Monday, March 18, 2013
Several years ago while living in Rochester, New York, I took the decision to leave my then current job and go on the hunt for another. For one of my interviews, wanting to impress the recruiters, I went all out in creating a few samples of communications products. The message was consistent across the products and, as I spoke to the brochure in particular, I was quite excited as I tried to sell the company on my new and original slogan: "It just makes sense!" Well, I didn't get the job.
What I did get was one of the shocks of my life. About three months later, a new insurance company opened offices, and started offering their service, in Rochester. Their slogan? "It just makes sense." They had a few commercials that created scenarios of people/situations with a dearth of common sense. They built 'em up to that final scene where everything inevitably came crashing down. Had they chosen the insurance company...blah blah blah. But, I was stuck at the slogan! To this day, it would be difficult for anyone to convince me that my idea didn't make it out of that interview and into the ear of some marketing/ad person responsible for the insurance company's ad campaign.
The fact that this has happened to me means that it has happened to others. I took no action. I mean, how would I even begin to prove that my intellectual property (didn't call it that, then) and creativity had been encroached upon? Nay, stolen. By that time, anyway, I had already found a new job and, well, was simply not interested in pursuing it.
That experience left me in a funny place. Not haha funny but funny peculiar, as my sisters and I used to say growing up. How would I, from that moment, demonstrate my capabilities in satisfying recruiting requirements, while not furnishing my would-be employers with valuable insight/material for themselves or those within their network, if they end up not hiring me? It also made me feel that, were I to take that route, I would not be carrying out my full potential; I would be marring the integrity of my work through deliberate short-changing. Doing so would mean not being true to myself.
Over the years, I've changed jobs a few times - relocating to different countries will do that. Whenever I've had to attend an interview that asks for evidence of my work, that episode jumps out at me. In a few cases, the requirement is in reference to something they've already worked on. And, that's fine; that's the way it should be. In one or two cases, they go the "what if" route for a situation yet to be realized. With those, it's really a hard call. The last time I was faced with that, I did go all out, but, I introduced no new idea in the comms material - everything was already theirs. I created the materials and did the writing - to show them I could. My uniqueness was in my speed; the way I captured the voice and sound of the head of the company in the proposed speech and the way I showed that I totally got what the organization was about.
I'm not saying that is the way to go. Kinda reminiscent of Dash in The Incredibles: "I'll only be the best by a tiny bit." Most of us want to be the best by more than a tiny bit. And, after learning that we didn't get x or y job, we certainly don't want to be thinking, "Man! If I had just put that little extra in it!" It might come down to: "Do your best but be wise as well." I would like to think that organizations are more mindful nowadays of the kinds of projects they have candidates work on as they vie for certain positions; whether these projects leave the company with little to no wiggle room to benefit in any way from what a candidate brings to the table if that candidate ends up not being hired. At the very least, it's a matter of ethics, really.