Libraries

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Original Photo by portocala on Morguefile.com

Perhaps I should begin this post with “back in my day…” Reflections by the elderly–or even the middle aged–are often suspect as they are colored by years of forgetfulness as well as a sometimes rose-tinted view. However, there may be something to appreciate in these remembrances, no matter how rosy.

Picture, if you will, a time before the internet. There were no video games or e-readers, just books and television. On a hot summer’s day, the library was a welcome respite from the boring re-runs being shown on the few television channels available. It was a place for escape and hidden enjoyment. 

My grandparents would often take us to the local library for an hour or two. My brother, four years older than I, was tasked to supervise me. We would walk quietly through the stacks, fearful of being shushed by the librarian. With no library card, we would find a magazine or short book and begin reading.

Those cool, calm moments among the library books were among the best out of our summers. The library was the place of grownups, and we had been allowed into that sanctuary. It was a place of knowledge, a place to be respected. This was sort of a rite of passage in some respects as we had been trusted to enter this place with only ourselves for supervision.

Now, knowledge and entertainment are much easier to obtain. The seeking out of enlightenment–or even something to read–has become instantaneous. This has taken the magic out of libraries and lessened the “thrill of the hunt” for a bit of information. Perhaps this is something to be cheered, but also mourned in its own way. 

Every time I hop on the internet, I think of how far we’ve come and am grateful for the ease of gaining information. However, I do miss those quiet moments with my brother among all those books.

Difficult People

Original Photo by hotblack on Morguefile.com
Original Photo by hotblack on Morguefile.com

“We are constantly being put to the test by trying circumstances and difficult people and problems not necessarily of our own making.” —Terry Brooks

I’m sure we’ve all been there. The feeling of utter frustration with another person can ratchet up our stress level to new highs. Dealing with people like this–especially if we must do so on a daily basis–can lead to hopelessness and a desire for escape. Well, maybe not for everyone, but certainly for me.

Difficult people in the workplace can make an already stressful situation worse. When a job is not fulfilling–or perhaps not even paying well–then you begin to look for greener pastures. Adding in the problem of dealing with stress like gossiping, backbiting, and bullying can make you look even faster. Plus, this can also lessen any motivation for maintaining a high performance in the workplace.

This sort of situation seems hopeless, and for an introvert like myself, it can make you wonder whether or not it’s worth it. The problems associated with the situation and the hurt caused by it can take up too much time and consideration. Indeed, it makes me think of the following quote:

“People find life entirely too time-consuming.” —Stanislaw Lec

I sometimes think about the times that I have dealt with real emergencies–my own cancer, the illnesses and deaths of loved ones, for example–and I know that those times have been stressful, often extremely so. However, there was a reason for the stress, and there was a depth of emergency associated with it. What about this situation? There is no reason for this, only that our world is fallen.

And then I think of the strength that I have seen in others who faced similar situations, and I take strength in that. I have watched people continue to hold their heads high and deal with such problems daily. Their motivation? Being an honorable person and supporting their family. That is the kind of person that I strive to be, but often fail in the execution, as we all do. Still, there is strength there in attempting to be the kind of person you know you can be even in a fallen world.

So what are your strategies for dealing with difficult people and situations? Any wisdom to share?

Southern Accents

Photo by richard_b on Morguefile.com
Photo by richard_b on Morguefile.com

“I used to say that whenever people heard my Southern accent, they always wanted to deduct 100 IQ points.”  —Jeff Foxworthy

In a recent conversation with someone locally, I heard a couple of statements that fail to surprise me any more. The woman, who is in retail, talked about effecting a Southern accent in order to charm her customers. She then went on to say that a Southern accent may make you sound more charming, but it also makes you sound stupid. Groaning, I stood up and stated that I refuse to eliminate my twang. I think she ultimately failed to see my point.

Although growing up in Oklahoma is technically not the Deep South, I heard an Okie twang on a regular basis. “Ya’ll” and “all ya’ll” were part of my daily vocabulary and conveyed perfectly what was intended. Too, traveling to Texas to visit relatives, I enjoyed the difference in accent. Drinking sweet tea out of Mason jars, we discussed the new colored lights–i.e., tinted windows–that protected a passing car. Our talk was comfortable with none of the attempts to impress that I would later see at college and elsewhere.

Admittedly, I did try to get rid of my own accent when I realized how others perceived us. No matter how much education I might obtain, I knew that people would still see me as a stupid Okie. And yet I knew that I would never be able to escape my own self, especially after watching an episode of Three’s Company with my brother. In the episode, Ralph Furley was talking yet again about oil. His pronunciation, though, was something like “aaahhhlll.” My brother and I attempted to pronounce “oil” like Mr. Furley, but it didn’t work. Ours still came out with our usual two-syllable pronunciation, “oi-uhl.”

Having been around people from all over since then, I have found that most assume that anyone with a Southern accent must have very little education. The typical conversation deteriorates into some form of patronizing. Usually–but not always–this is particularly true of people coming in from the East coast; they often see the Midwest as a vast desert of education and culture that would benefit from a little East coast knowledge. Provided by them, of course.

So do I still try to pronounce “oil” with one syllable? No, I sure don’t. It seems like a waste of time. Now that I’m older, I appreciate where I came from, along with the friendly attitude of the people I knew. We may say “buggy” when referring to a shopping cart, but that doesn’t affect our intelligence. And impressing others with my vocabulary? No, I don’t even try any longer.

I’d much rather drink some sweet tea and enjoy some quiet time with friendly people.

Creativity

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“Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?” ― Kurt Vonnegut

I have written on and off throughout my life, leaving it mostly behind after college. After my graduation, my time was devoted mainly to practical matters, those revolving around work, food, home, and family. There have been brief forays into writing and other types of creation, but they have been brief.

Now that I am attempting to get back into the game, so to speak, I have found it sometimes difficult to find a topic for writing, much less even to write. I suppose part of this comes from the everyday stresses of life that seem to overwhelm any access to the imagination. Or perhaps I am simply out of practice. Most of my writing lately has consisted of short articles geared toward gaining an “online presence” and hopefully earning a bit of money. This is certainly necessary in my current financial situation, but even writing those little articles can be somewhat difficult at times.

When words come but little, I have lately been working on altering digital pictures. The change in media is enjoyable and will hopefully stimulate some more extensive writing than the short articles and tips for Bubblews. The work seems a little indulgent, but it helps to get beyond that brain freeze that I’ve been experiencing lately. I may also again create an account on 750words so that I am forced to write and with a definite goal in mind.

So forgive me if I share my pictures from time to time. That currently is my bit of creative fun. Having completed a few of them, I will be returning to writing, especially that of my ebook and longer articles. Who knows? There might even be a poem deep down in this brain of mine.

Quiet

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Photo by hotblack on Morguefile.com

Talking with my husband tonight, I realized that our definition of quiet has changed dramatically over the years. When we were younger, it might have been a slow swing on the outdoor swingset, listening to the steady creak of the chains. Now it might be an hour catching up on Facebook or reading the latest news. Our periods of quiet have become loud in their own way.

My moments with my husband are usually filled with the talk of chores or daily happenings. There are times, though, when we lie in bed with our cats and listen to their purring. Our walks through the neighborhood can also bring quiet, watching the squirrels play in the local park or simply holding hands as we sweat through a humid summer night.

And yet I feel guilty about those periods of rest. They bring respite but no accomplishment. I’ve begun to feel a bit like the Ferengi from Star Trek, always seeking a new way to make money. Considering our situation, that is most likely a natural result of our situation. However, I wonder if I am missing something in the process.

Quiet is different now. Whether it is a function of adulthood or technology, I don’t know. Perhaps our changing definition is simply a side effect of necessary sacrifices.