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.



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.