My Useless English Major

As Dave Chapelle once joked, “Haters gonna to hate, lovers gonna love–” …I’ll stop right there.

Why did you major in English? Everybody in the world is going to speak English someday! What a useless major! Blah blah, and so on it goes like this.

It’s not just random people who give me the inquisitive raised eyebrow either, family does it too! My techy cousins make fun of me. I hold a book in my hands and they say, “Have you heard of a kindle?” Really? Has society lost their love for books? I mean, I hate tree cutting like the next person – but now books have recycled paper and that’s cool!

I refuse to let the pages go. The smell of paper, feel of the ink, and the weight of each page as I turn them over from the right to the left (unless you’re in a country that reads from left to right) — until there’s no more and it feels like a triumph at the end. The conquering English major readers who refuse to let go of their dusty overstuffed libraries, their prize winners, their game upon the shelf! We cannot let them go. And why? Because nerdy adventurers like us adore traveling through fiction, scifi, novels, biographies, therapy and medical books. We want to know more and more and more. It makes our heart skip a beat — it reminds us that we are alive — that we are humans and that we are capable of feeling, inventing, connecting, and killing each other.

My useless English major has given me the gift of capturing the subtextual messages between, within, above and over the lines. My ESL background gives me a strange and funny insight on the English language too – I can reverse meanings the way language reverses syntax.

So here’s what I say to you who ask about my useless English major. Every company, organization, and nonprofit in the world today needs to employ a person who knows how to communicate properly, spell words, and for heaven’s sake – write with a hint of humor.

I do not live in a fantasy world (entirely), I know where we are heading, I know technology is taking over a lot of these little pleasures in life (for some of us who used to live before the public internet remember). Like going over to your friends house and talking about whatever, having picnics, or driving to the beach with the family! Those of us who lived before Facebook. Don’t get me wrong, I love me my Facebook, but — it has kept me from actual physical contact to some people. Did we use to make more of an effort? I don’t know anymore.

But my major and my books is where I draw the line. I am a proud English major; I value language, communication, and reading. I believe that writing down ideas in a journal is a necessary process human beings need to understand complex daily interactions. I believe reading your thoughts months later can help you reflect on what has changed in your life. I believe stories have the power to heal. I believe writing have the power to regain power over your life. I believe giving someone the gift of ANY language and the ability to write it, gives them an independent voice is of great value.

I love books, I love writing, and I love communicating.

Click here to check out this Huffington post l article by Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz entitled The Value of Reading Novels.

xoxo

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Dreaming Big

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Lately I’ve been allowing myself to dream big. This is because I feel like a wave of change is around the corner. Change is coming and no matter how much I drag my feet, and try to think about all the horrible things that can happen it will still creep into my life.  I know that in the end, this change will be for the best.

More writing, more opportunities, more art, more beautiful people to inspire me, more weirdos to eavesdrop on (that’s not an insult because I consider myself a huge weirdo), more parties, more books, more dancing, more love, and etc. etc. etc. All I have to do is be prepared, practice, and do my best.

Then all these big dreams might become big realities. If you ever question if that is true, check out some of the beautiful landscapes in this world. Once, San Francisco burned down, and then San Francisco was rebuilt— all because of big dreams coming to life.   I am going to continue to dream big, and I hope you do too. Never settle Reader.

Never.

 

Books, tampons, and spaghetti…(Writing Assignment #1)

St. Patrick’s Day was dead here in Berkeley. Why? Well, I live in a college town and sometimes it seems that everything around UC Berkeley gets affected by midterms. It’s unfortunate, but businesses are pretty dull here on Sundays.

My roommate has no class on Mondays and all her friends were too tired to hang, so she and I decided to take a light stroll around the block to get our minds off of our work (school, papers, jobs, deadlines, ex’s, partners, laptops). We walked and talked about important topics like why having guilty pleasures (like watching Nashvilleomg love that show) are important, and why green beer tastes like wax. After a few blocks of busy discussion we decided to make a right turn onto Dana Street.

Dana Street. It is the land in between Telegraph and Shattuck. It’s not really a  “happening” street, but it’s part of this town and we appreciate her because she is our path to Dwight that allows us to move east onto Telegraph’s two way street divider (you’d only understand this if you lived on the South side of Berkeley, but it’s quite nice to have Dana around). Anyways…there was a crescent moon and we felt romantic, so we walked on it.

This is when we entered the other dimension.

My roommate screams “Books!” I look down and to my right and sure enough—there was a box of books between a tree and a trashcan. They were in front of this tacky apartment building. We rummaged through it a little and found a couple of interesting titles but then quickly lost interest when we realized they were mostly Italian math books. So we deserted the free books and went on walking on Dana’s quiet sidewalk.

Ahead of us was a glint of yellow and white objects shimmering under the moonlight. After close inspection, we realize it was a trail of tampons. Some were opened and some were perfectly sealed. Me (a storyteller) and she (an actress) decided to create a scenario for these wayward tampons. We imagined an argument between two girls, one was clearly coming back from the market and decided to shower the other with her new box of tampons. Maybe one of them took a man away from the other, oh clichés! We giggled to ourselves and kept walking.

About five feet from the tampons there was a small mound of of spaghetti with meatballs  on the sidewalk. We stood over it for a while and wondered if we had stumbled into the Twilight Zone. “What happened here?” my roommate asked. All I was thinking was the infinite amount of stories that can come of out this observation alone. If you want to write a short story about Dana Street and share it, please send it my way! I will repost it into the blog. I am going to work on one myself.

Dinner, Authors, and Book Recommendation #2

Geek Love

Well Blog Land, a lot has happened since last I wrote. A friend of mine needed help at work. I went to help cover for her at a home near Tisdale Lake. Her boss needed to move boxes of books from his home to the garage. It seemed like an easy job, so I agreed to go. I am trying to save up for a camera and loans.

So I get there and it turns out, this boss of hers is a pretty prolific and well known writer who happens to teach at Cal. Not only that, but he lives in this cute place which is pretty much my dream home. Small house overlooking some water (at a safe distance in case of a tsunami, my second biggest fear btw). The house is small but big enough for love and life. There were book cases everywhere, and tall pointy Dutch ceilings. I walked in and instantly wanted to sit down and write.  I need to find my own space, I thought to myself.

He gives me a quick tour. He tells me a poet used to live there, and proceeds to introduce me to his multiple libraries around his home. It was the most incredible collection of books I had ever seen in a single home.   Needless to say he was getting rid of some of his babies (books) because of remodeling and changes to the house. I could tell he was having trouble parting with them, but I made sure to give him time. He pulled down the ones he wanted to keep while I collected the ones he left standing to put in boxes. The books ranged from critical theory to science fiction. He had an incredible fiction collection, including Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

I had a small break between my hours, and as he handed me some carrot juice all I could think was, man … what I wouldn’t do to be in your shoes. Seeing his lifestyle and his care for his babies reinforced the idea in me that without being well read you will not be very good at writing at all. There is a reason why this man is published and hangs out with amazing artists. He puts in the time. It was a small job in the end, but I walked away with a free book (compliments of the author) and a hunger for my own cottage in the woods someday.

Later on that evening I went to a dinner party. I was surprised to learn that a poet from South America was going to join us. Blog Land, you could not even imagine how stupid I looked all night. I could not stop smiling!  At the dinner party I ended up eating and talking with amazing dancers, artists, and writers. We talked about politics, being women, the power of art and how it can change society. All I kept thinking was, wow…this is my life right now and it’s pretty amazing.

I can’t wait to keep on learning more things from this town and its people. I wonder what amazing things await in my future.

 

Broken, Burned, and Bolted

I was walking back to my friend’s apartment, ready to call it a day, when all of a sudden I see a strange looking building to my right. It was gated and there was a distinct darkness looming around it. I take out my camera and snap some pictures.

UNSAFE.

With half of the roof missing, and upside down dark circles left behind by burning flames, the building was a sad thing to behold. It was a deserted. It reminded me of horror films, or tragic stories. Like Nancy Drew books with places that housed people or objects with their own sense of character. I pretend this place used to be majestic in the 1940’s. But I don’t know anything about architecture. That’s what research is for, right? I did no such research of this building. Instead I took pictures and used my imagination to ask some questions.

How many countless students must have walked in and out of the front doors? And now that she was standing with a missing top, how many of those students could recognize her? Would they want to? Is she an unwanted thing now? How sad.

By one broken window, a shelf full of books sat unharmed. Some burnt and some looked perfectly fine.

Buildings have character too. They age like people, they house memories like a brain, and they can also die. This one is getting demolished in a few weeks. It’s not livable. Although, I did see a sleeping bag out in front of the building, I suspect it must be toxic to be in her. Poor toxic building, I think to myself.

Like a character, this house is broken down, burned, and bolted —- and desperately waiting to be reborn.