Tag Archives: life

Phrase Rant: “This Will Change Your Life Forever”

I hate it when people tell you, “This will change your life forever.” Because it doesn’t. Or, looking it from the other side of things, every experience changes your life a little (if I go to class today my life is different than if I’d skipped). People say this about all kinds of things: books, movies, trips to other countries, experiences they think you should have. What they really mean is that whatever it is will have a stronger impact on you than most other things in life do. Or, more cynically, this book/movie/experience gave them insight into something in their life, so how can it not have an impact on your life?

First of all, it raises expectations too high. Insisting something’s great could possibly have a psychological impact – maybe if you say it enough everyone else will convince themselves it’s great too. But this doesn’t always happen. How many times have you read a book recommended by someone, and been disappointed? Or what if it was actually good, but not life-changing? Then calling it “good” hardly seems good in comparison to what it was supposed to be.

Now, unfortunately, the phrase “this will change your life,” make me react with cynicism. “Yeah, probably about as much as the last life-changing experience did.” Huge changes in my life would be: finding a career, moving to a different city, getting married, having kids, having a natural disaster hit suddenly, etc. None of which can be predicted by anyone else. Who do you think you are, predicting something will change my life? A fortune-teller? A prophet?

Like so many phrases in the English language, I can keep twisting these annoying words to mean ridiculous things, but that’s not the point. I know people usually mean well when they say them (unless they’re trying to sell you something). They really want you to be as excited over this thing as they are. I just want to point out that just because I can see your excitement and want to share your excitement, doesn’t mean I will. Sometimes the gap between two different people’s experiences is just too far to close.

What do you think? Have you been told something would be life-changing, and was it actually?
The Life-Changing Internet:

Ten Books That Will (Apparently) Change Your Life

Eating Raw Food Will (Apparently) Change Your Life

Ten Apps That Will (Apparently) Change Your Life

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Vanity, Oh Vanity

OR: What Do You Mean I’m Not a Great Poet – I Got My Poem Published In a Vanity Anthology!

 

On the subject of poetry, it’s very difficult to publish poetry, or get famous doing it. But that’s not exactly obvious if you just google “publish poetry” or “poetry contest” and thousands of hits pop up – unfortunately a good chunks of these are vanity presses. A vanity press is a publisher who gathers people’s works (often poetry, though I’m sure fiction ones exist) into anthologies, which it then sells back to the people who wrote for it at  (often) extremely high prices, and that’s how it makes its money. The people wrote for it buy it because they’re all excited to see their name in print. But they don’t really get all that much exposure out of it, other than the narrow group of people who buy the anthology. Though it might make them feel good about getting published – hence the term “vanity press”.

I got suckered into submitting work to one publisher that was often classified as a vanity press – the old poetry.com site (the site is being revamped now, apparently). Fortunately I never bought any of the books my poetry was supposedly published in. Once my friends and I learned about their scheme, we amused ourselves by sending really bad poetry to them. There was a form on their website which would automatically post your submission on their website, and it cracked us up to see our absolute gibberish “published” for all the world to see. We checked back at the site a couple weeks later, and all our poems had been taken down, except for one of mine. I can’t remember how the one they left up went exactly, but it definitely included the line “elephant on my tongue” – which displays exactly how high their standards of poetry were.

Really, though, it’s always good to keep in mind that it’s not a simple process to get your poetry works out there – or any type of writing you do.

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Frustration

Frustration is…

… having a zillion writing ideas in your head, but not having time to actually write them. Because you have to write a boring, derivative history paper instead. Or study for statistics.

I came across the concept of dead fanfiction today – basically it’s fanfiction that never gets updated because of other life interferences. That can happen with any kind of writing, actually (how many abandoned blogs have you come across? How many novels never get finished?) My hope is that I get a chance to work on these writing ideas before the excitement dies or I forget them…

How do you cope with life getting in the way of writing?

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Teenage Dreams

This poem was actually on a bus ad – our city has this program called “Poetry on the Bus” to put poetry in everyday transit riders’ lives, and my poem was selected for it a couple years back. It was actually pretty cool to hear some of my friends saw it. It’s actually the last two verses of a longer poem I wrote for school, but I had to chop it down because it was too long.

Teenage Dreams:

I want the best of both worlds, really

To be too young for my road to be hilly

With the carefree-ness of my childhood days

But a grown-up freedom in which to play –

I am bound by ties and fetters

Of decorum, and society

Likely my life will follow to the letter

But my dreams? They belong to me.

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Observations on Being Single

Obligatory Valentine’s Day Post

There are two types of Valentine’s Day posts that singles write: posts whining about how depressing Valentine’s Day is when everybody around them is in a relationships, and posts celebrating how singles get to spend the whole day spoiling no one but themselves (oh goodie). This is not one of those posts. I’m not going to rant, or write an ode to singleness here. I’d just like to point out a few things I’ve noticed, and this seems like an appropriate time to do it.

First, being single never excludes you from “the game of love.” You always get tugged into second-guessing, and misunderstanding, and awkward moments like anyone else. I can have completely normal conversations with a guy, and then hours later realize, “Oh, I hope he didn’t read too much into that…” or “Maybe he had ulterior motives for starting that seemingly innocent conversation…” When the most likely explanation is that it was an innocent conversation. And that’s the default explanation in my head, but waaaaaaaay in the back of my mind is a little voice telling me to be careful, because there’s a miniscule possibility it wasn’t.

And, of course, if you’re actually interested in whomever you’re having a conversation with, it makes things a lot more complex…

I guess I just wish interactions between guys and girls didn’t have to involve second-guessing and misunderstandings – that every friendly conversation was just a friendly conversation unless we actually wanted something different – and additionally, that we didn’t have to eternally test the water if we actually like someone.

No more gushing about how much we love being single if we’re actually keeping our eyes wide open for a special someone. No more “we’re just friends” when you’re secretly wishing you’re not, or insisting “we’re just friends” because you’re afraid the other person is getting the wrong idea. Don’t know why, but singleness seems to involve second-guessing, over-analyzing, and pretending to a better version of ourselves.

I don’t like fakery, and I don’t like playing games. Sometimes it seems like the process of being single involves too much of both.

Anyway, hope everyone has a good Valentine’s Day!

 

Note: Here’s one idea for a good Valentine’s Day while single.

Note 2: Being in a relationship is not necessarily a solution to the above… I know it brings its own set of problems!

 

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Finding Time to Write

It’s the last week of January, and resolutions are meeting reality. All those lovely, grand plans we started the year with are starting to look a lot harder to achieve. Yeah, my resolution was to write more often. I know, I’m not the only writer out there who finds it hard to find time to write – it’s a battle for all of us, I think.

Too often, writing is not my priority. Back in high school and junior high, writing was my priority – so much so that I’d ignore whatever was going on in class and write novels instead (don’t worry, I still passed). Now reality has set in, and I get to hand over cheques for several thousands of dollars for every year of my university education, and suddenly, school is a priority. Not to mention, it’ll make a bit of a difference to my future whether I pass university or not. So – school first. And when I procrastinate on school, I end up procrastinating on writing as well.

Also, my brain gets tired. Too much stimulation – definitions to know, people to talk to, things that need to be done. There’s a HUGE temptation, when I finally get a chance to relax, to do a zombie-like and non-productive activity, like watching TV. And I write too many notes and papers for school. Writing for “fun” suddenly doesn’t sound like so much fun anymore.

BUT, I love writing and want to get experience. One strategy I use is to carry a notebook with me (yeah, not a laptop, I’m a poor student) and write while I wait for something: the bus to come, class to start, etc. If I get a sudden flash of inspiration too, I can scrawl it down and not forget it.

The other strategy is to just sit down and write, without letting the act of writing scare me too much. This blog is helpful that way – it needs an update semi-regularly.

Currently, though, I’ve been posting three times a week, and I don’t think that pace is sustainable for the rest of the semester. I’m actually surprised I ever got out three blog posts a week at all! So I think I’ll go down to two a week for now.

Are there any other tips and tricks out there for finding time to write?

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Thank You, Random Stranger

Or, The Adventures of My Little Red Car

I don’t think too many people have heard this story yet, since I was pretty shell-shocked after it happened.

Car, Meet Ditch

So, I’m on my way to a potluck after church, and the roads are not too great but I’m going under the speed limit (probably should’ve been going slower, though). I realize I’m drifting slightly over the centre line and jerk my wheel, and next thing I know there’s branches hitting my windshield and I’m plowing through the ditch (apparently the cloud of snow could be seen miles away). There’s three thoughts in my head: 1.) Oh God, HELP! 2.) I’m probably not going to die from this, am I? 3.) Well, there goes my car. Then I hit a fencepost and stopped. Practially every single car on the road sees me go in and stops – which is a good thing because my cellphone has just died. And we’re definitely outside the city (the potluck I was going to was at an acreage). One guy yells, “Don’t worry, my wife’s called the ambulance!” and I’m like, “Oh no, I don’t need an ambulance, I’m fine! It’s just my car!” And another lady runs down, helps me out, and insists I come to warm up in their truck.

Random Strangers, Set 1

I’m expecting church people to drive by and stop at any minute, because it seems like whenever I get into situations like this there’s always someone I know around to witness my mistake, but not this time. So the lady who pulled me out offers to give me a ride to wherever I was going (the potluck).

Now, I know perfectly well I should never get into a car with strangers. But several things go through my mind: the lady is friendly, her and her husband are headed home with a screaming baby in their backseat, and there’s a handicapped tag in their windshield. And my cellphone’s dead. I know, I know, that’s probably not good enough. But I get in.

And, coincidence enough, they happen to live one road over from the acreage I’m going to, and the husband used to works with my friends who own the acreage. (A God-thing)

So I get to the potluck, phone my parents (“No, don’t go try to pull it out, it’s so far in you’d need a tow-truck…”) and inform everyone at the potluck what happened. Fortunately, one of the guys at the potluck owns a big truck, and he thinks he can get my car out of the ditch after the potluck is over. I’m grateful. So I sit at this potluck, freaking out over what just happened, and being completely antisocial (sorry, everyone). After everyone leaves, we head out with the big truck to see what we can do.

Man Versus the Ditch

And just as we get out there, the guy with the truck gets a call from his wife. “Harma’s parents have pulled the car out, so you don’t need to go out there.” And I’m like, “What?!”

My parents don’t own a truck. They don’t know anyone who owns a truck. They don’t have AMA or anything, and knowing my Dad, he’s probably not all that eager to pay for a towtruck. Also, I’m not even sure the car still runs at this point, so even if it wasn’t down a steep embankment and in a ditch, I’m not sure they could drive it anywhere.

My friend reassures me. “However it happened, at least the car’s out. At least you had lots of people around to help you out today, including your church family.” And the guy with the truck says he’ll drive me home.

Random Strangers, Set 2

Turns out, my parents were so curious to see what I’d done that they’d drove out to see it. Then they checked if the car still worked, and while they were messing around in the ditch, a random stranger with a truck stopped and asked if they needed help. He had a rope, but it was pretty weak, so another random stranger stopped and offered them a better one. So mom gets inside the car to steer it, Dad pushes all the bushes and fenceposts out of the way, the random stranger with the truck pulls and – it took them an hour and a half to get it out. Crazy, but they did it.

Here I was thinking I’d get a huge tow truck bill, on top of whatever it takes to fix the car, and here I find out that 1.) someone got the car out for free, and I didn’t even have to stand in the cold to do it, and 2.) the car still runs and could drive home (even though it definitely needs fixing). I didn’t know how to thank everyone, and I didn’t even meet all the random strangers who helped me out.

I’m just so amazed there are so many people in this world that will go out of their way to help someone out – not only two sets of random strangers, but also my parents, everyone at the potluck who tried to make me feel better, and my friend who offered the use of his big truck. If there’s any silver lining to this episode, it’s finding out that people care. That God cares.

And, wow, my little red car is sure a trooper. It took on a ditch full of snow and came out with its head held high!

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