Monday, April 14, 2014

Labels Are For Boxes, Not People (AKA The Post Where I Get Rant-y)



We put labels on boxes so we can know what's inside. The labels are there so we can evaluate what's inside the box without looking, learning, or investigating for ourselves. We take for granted that the label is all we need to know.

How often do we do the same to people? We quickly label them and decide their “worth” by whatever quick label comes to mind.

      Unemployed. Employed. Poor. Rich. Middleclass. Upper class.

When was the last time you sized someone up based upon a quick label?

      Fair skinned. Dark skinned.

Do you put labels on people and take for granted that you know all you need to know?

      Introvert. Extrovert.

After nearly 10 years of marriage, I can tell you that I am still learning about my husband and he is still learning about me. Believe me when I say: In the most intimate of relationships, with open sharing, we can still misjudge each other.

      Fat. Skinny. Health nut. Junk food addict. Vegetarian.

So, why do we think we have strangers all figured out by a simple label? Why do we presume to guess the motives of others based on a label?

      Sinner. Saint. Bigot. Religious. Athiest. Agnostic.

When you put someone in a box with a neat little label you stop learning about them.

 
      Republican. Democrat

Don't label and certainly don't stop learning.


      Highschool education. Higher education.

The nature of human beings is that they will surprise you. We aren't meant to be kept in a box.

You are the sum of your life experiences, the choices you make, and the people you influence. Not the sum of the labels society places on you.

One day, can we just stop evaluating someone's worth all together?

You are a person. You live, you breathe, you matter. Full stop.


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POST SCRIPT BLAH BLAH BLAHS:
I don't consider this to be an end-all-be-all on the topic of labels in any way. This is just a brief introduction to the giant Rant-y Land I wander into when we talk about labels and putting people in boxes. This topic started with this tweet or the tweet started the topic? Chicken vs. egg. Any way.
Legit Box I don't mind if you put me in.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Night Birds

One of the perks of living in the southern parts of the U.S. is that while much of the country is still covered in snow, we are starting to see spring. Hate us or love us for it, spring is here.

The flowering trees here are stunning in the spring. Unfortunately, right now, the Bradford Pear trees are blooming. While they are particularly beautiful they have a soul-wrenching odor. Look upon the trees but do not stand downwind from them. The fumes wafting off those blossoms smell like a giant vat of urine that's covered in mold. Wikipedia actually describes the smell as "a cross between rotting fish and semen."

But I digress.

This weekend it was warm enough that we opened the windows at night for fresh air and a breeze. My husband and I cuddled a little, awake in the excitement of leaving the windows open for the first time this year. 

We made hushed small talk about how much we enjoyed the fresh air and I commented on how much I enjoyed "
to just lie here and listen to the birds chirping."

We cuddled some more and listened to the night noises. It suddenly occurred to me that the noises were from bugs, not birds. From the sound of it, these were giant, mutant crickets of a violent sort.

As is my brain's natural inclination, I started to wonder exactly where those bugs were. Are they on my windowsill? Do they live in the trees? Did one climb in our bedroom?!? My brain helpfully supplied lots of thoughts about the bugs we were hearing (why is the word thorax so disturbing?) and it started to damage my calm

About this time, my husband caught on to the "bird noises" and he clarified, "Actually, I don't think those are birds, I think they're-"
"I know. I'm trying not to think about it."
"I mean – those are night birds," he corrected in an innocent yet manly falsetto, trying to redirect the conversation. "The birds that chirpy at night!"
"Uh, night birds, yeah."
We lay in an uneasy silence for a while, the magic of the moment lost. Finally, I got up and shut the window. He thanked me, saying, "I didn't want to listen to the bugs- uh, BIRDS any more either."

Ah, the perils of spring. If I haven't mentioned it previously, I do not like bugs. This is only the sweet chirping of crickets. When we hit the foul days of summer and cicada season you will find me in the fetal position trying to find my mind palace

May your windows be open, the breeze be pleasant, and the midnight chirping be night birds.
-Rachel's spring proverb



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Random Thoughts on Tea

Judging you.
I had the most majestic cup of chai today at Starbucks. The fact they couldn't make it sugar free tells me they made it from a syrup, but I can live with that.

People ordering at the Starbucks counter use such careful and thoughtful mannerisms like they are receiving important advice from a consultant rather than ordering a beverage.

Starbucks always makes me think of that scene in You've Got Mail. "Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino." It really does make me feel like I accomplished some small thing in life by choosing a beverage and bravely facing the barista/consultant with my choice.

I rarely go to Starbucks. I normally brew my tea at home, and I'm always fascinated by the directions on the side of the box. 

Apparently, pouring the water over the teabag is a very important, non-negotiable step to making tea. Adding the teabag to a cup of hot water is “right out” (vague Monty Python reference). Google this if you wish to read a lot of people have anxiety over the pour vs. dunk debate.

My box of decaf chai says that not only should I pour the hot water over the teabag, I should by no means squeeze the teabag. My husband theorizes they were thinking of male body parts when they included this instruction.

There are no real rules to how I make tea. Tea is supposed to be relaxing. The more rules applied to the tea making process, the more I've defeated the purpose of the tea.

To "real" tea drinkers I imagine my methods and tastes for tea are something akin to a Neanderthal bludgeoning a small rabbit and eating it raw. *crude grunting*

I have many different varieties of tea, and I'm often struck by how the different brands of tea show different personalities on the box. 

The Celestial Seasonings box makes me think of a fun bunch of laid-back people. Twinings makes me feel a little inadequate, like I'm not worthy, but I drink it anyway because 'Murica. Bigelow is somewhere between Celestial Seasonings and Twinings, for me.

The Tazo box makes me think that "maybe I should've accomplished something with my life today, but if I'm yearning for an accomplishment I may miss the path to inner centeredness and is this tea done steeping yet?"

On that note, I have a cup of freshly made tea waiting for me. I performed a hybrid "pour + dunk" maneuver with the teabag, in case you're wondering.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Books I've Read

I love reading but I haven't had much time to read in the last couple years due to school. (I suppose I should say "reading for fun" since I read plenty for school!) So, one thing that I worked on during 2011 was reading just a little bit on most days.

It felt good even to read "just one chapter" because that was so much more than I'd been able to read in years. (Although, some days I stayed up nearly all night reading a book because I couldn't put it down ... even though I had a test the next day. Don't be like me!)

Just for giggles, I looked back through all of my library “overdue notice” e-mails (haha!) to compile a list of the books I read this year. (Seriously though, if you live in my area and I was holding captive the book you wanted, I am very sorry.) There are probably a few books missing from this list because I forgot about them, but I think it's a good representation of what I've read. It's good to see that "just one chapter" really made a difference.

What are some of the books you read in 2011?


Fiction

  1. I Am Number Four – Pittacus Lore
  2. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larrson
  3. Dead Reckoning – Charlaine Harris
  4. The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  5. Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins
  6. Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  7. Real Murders – Charlaine Harris
  8. A Bone to Pick – Charlaine Harris
  9. Three Bedrooms, One Corpse – Charlaine Harris
  10. The Julius House – Charlaine Harris
  11. Dead Over Heels – Charlaine Harris
  12. Ouran High School Host Club – Story & art by Bisco Hatori (manga)
  13. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig (Read for a class. I wanted to hang myself.)
  14. Specimen Day – Michael Cunningham (Read for a class. Fascinating, unnerving, and depressing at times. The final “story” had Asimovian flavor.)
  15. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress – Dai Sijie
  16. Mr. Muo's Traveling Couch – Dai Sijie
  17. Robot Dreams – Isaac Asimov

Non-Fiction (Stuff for your brain)

  1. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” – Rebecca Skloot
  2. Day Trips From Raleigh-Durham – James L. Hoffman
  3. The House of Hope – Elisabeth Gifford
  4. Pagan Christianity? – Frank Viola and George Barna

Non-Fiction (Cookbooks, Health, Self-Help, etc.)

  1. The Eat-Clean Diet Recharged – Tosca Reno
  2. The Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey
  3. Cook Yourself Thin – Lifetime Television (just typing that is embarrassing)
  4. Making the Cut – Jillian Michaels
  5. Master Your Metabolism – Jillian Michaels
  6. The Master Your Metabolism Cookbook – Jillian Michaels
  7. The Pioneer Woman Cooks – Ree Drummond
  8. The Power of Positive Fitness: Maximizing Physical, Mental & Spiritual Health – John M. Rowley


Monday, November 21, 2011

Mitten Tragedy



Artifact: Hipster Mittens, c. 1982

If you don't make your word count goals then your favorite pair of mittens will fall in a muddy puddle. The puddle may or may not be 6 inches deep and contain puddle-dwelling piranhas. Your favorite mittens will be soggy and gross for an unspecified amount of time from said muddy puddle. Get those words down on paper and avoid mitten tragedy!


Did you have "Idiot Mittens" when you were a kid? You know, those mittens with the string attached between the two mittens so you would have to have special talent in order to lose a mitten. Sadly, the string was never long enough and I always ended up trying to play in the snow with awkward T-Rex arms. T-Rex arms are such a disadvantage during a snowball fight.


Please, feel free to leave a comment below suggesting a better title for this post! I'm totally not feeling the "lets make a catchy title!" vibes today.

Monday, November 14, 2011

That Special Sauce



If you don't meet your word count goals a random person's armpit hair will end up in your sandwich tomorrow. Stone-ground whole wheat bread, low-sugar organic blueberry preserves, all natural peanut butter, and the hair from some stranger's unwashed arm pits. So. Get writing!


You don't eat PBJ? Let me know in the comments what kind of sandwich is your favorite!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Time Travel is a Harsh Mistress



"Finally. At last. The moment I've been training for."

Seriously. You don't even want to know what those piranhas are planning to do when they time travel. (I don't think he will become his own grandfather. Just sayin'.) So keep on writing! Whether you're doing NaNoWriMo or you are working at your own pace, keep at it! If you stop, 1) The terrorists win, and 2) Piranhas will gain the secret of time travel (see #1).

What do YOU think piranhas would do if they could travel through time?

a) Eat a bite of every American president?
b) Enjoy the giant, moving smorgasbord known as The Dinosaur Kingdom?
c) Establish an empirical piranha colony on the moon?
d) OTHER! (Leave your guess in the comments section!)