Sunday, September 01, 2013

Via Brain Pickings, Michael Lewis' first piece of advice to aspiring writers: "It’s always good to have a motive to get you in the chair. If your motive is money, find another one."

Friday, August 30, 2013

"What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand. What matters is that the Flaming Lips’s new album is ravishing and I’ve listened to it a thousand times already, sometimes for days on end, and it enriches me and makes me want to save people."

From an essay on "selling out" by Dave Eggers, reposted on

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I've been having the urge to blog lately, in the sense that I have things I want to get off my chest, and writing may be the only way I can truly do so. I've stopped writing for the most part. What is the point? No one reads this anyway. There is no utility to personal writing, at this point in my life. My time is better spent doing just about anything else -- learning computer skills, doing research for work, calling up a friend, watching a TV show or movie, reading a book, cleaning the house, learning another language.

I ask myself, how did I have so much time to blog when I was in college, and so little time to write now? Well, to put it bluntly, I didn't have a life. I didn't have a real job. I didn't have a boyfriend. I didn't have many friends to hang out with since I was so shy. I had summers off.

Writing was always a hobby, it was never about utility, never about wanting people to read what I wrote and say something nice about it. It was never about getting page views. It was never about getting paid. It was really one of the purest things I've ever done. I did it because I loved it, because it was an outgrowth of the person I was. Pure self-expression.

School is never pure like that. Work is NEVER like that. Even friendships and romantic relationships are often about tit for tat and social survival. But writing I poured myself into, and out of it I got ... a feeling, I guess, a feeling of well-being, of understanding, of putting something out there in the ether. Perhaps a feeling of satisfaction when I wrote something I felt was truly meaningful. Out of my blog I also got a few email pals and that was worthwhile.

I've investigated thoroughly the possibility of writing for a living and it just seems, from what I've read, that the outside world seems to agree with my current conclusion, that writing isn't worth much. A lot of people want to write, and many of them want to write so badly that they will do it for little or no money. A lot of people do write books, and there are a lot of books out there that don't get read. There are a lot of blogs out there. Most of them are a lot better than this one. Do I need to add to those numbers? Really? Does anyone care? No. Would anyone miss me if I never wrote another word? No.

Do I have something to say? I've read books that have so much to say about life and are so good that I feel like I demean language itself every time I start a blog post. I never say anything useful just going around in circles with these musings about life. But does everything have to have a price assigned to it?

I'll publish this and then decide tomorrow if it was worth taking the time to write or was a complete waste of time.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

"Lean In" by Sheryl Sandberg

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg is a must-read for every working woman. Yeah, I've heard the criticisms of the book, some of which are mentioned in the interview below -- you're telling women the problem is with themselves, that women are not ambitious enough, etc., etc. But I believe Sandberg's message is an important one. I think she deals honestly with the internal and external obstacles that can hold women back from leadership positions, and she reiterates why it is important that women strive for these positions.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

Random blog links

So I've gotten back in the blog-reading habit recently. Some gems:

From Ben Casnocha: "Wise people seem to know this: when bad shit happens to you, experience it. Don’t run from it. Don’t run from grief or pain or suffering. Accept it. Observe it. And then observe it leave your body, over time."

From Undefined Value:
Your chance of being killed by a terrorist or a mass shooter or an airplane crash or flesh-eating bacteria or a meteor is almost equal to zero. These events are reported on the news because they practically never happen.

It is silly to worry about terrorists and mass shooters if you are using your mobile phone while driving, or are eating a lot of fast food. The latter activities might kill you; the former just don't happen often enough for any reasonable person to worry about them.

On a lighter note, the Living El Paso blog has had an string of interesting posts. I liked the photo and review of Hello Day CafĂ©, my new favorite lunch spot.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

RIP Roger Ebert

The news of Roger Ebert's death was like a punch to the stomach this week. I emailed my coworker one word: "Wow." I've been following his work since "Siskel & Ebert" was in syndication in the mid-90s. Yes, I think I was one of the few pre-teen age fans of the show.

This may sound silly, but the intro to "Siskel & Ebert" may have had a little to do with my career choice. They looked like they were having the greatest time in the world writing (Ebert actually typing at a typewriter, ha ha), Siskel taking a cab in the big city, both of them seeing their faces on the side of trucks and reading their reviews at the newsstand.

It was in the late 2000s when I started reading Ebert's blog, and I was extremely impressed by the clarity of his writing about moviesreligion, loneliness, racism and life itself. I was stunned watching a piece about Ebert on Oprah where he went through his daily routine as a person who could not eat, drink or speak. How did he seem so happy in his writing? How did he stay motivated to do *anything* after life had dealt him such a difficult hand?

In 2011 he wrote "I do not fear death": "I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do." Words to live by.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rules of journalism

Detroit journalist Charles LeDuff's rules of journalism:
"There's two rules to this whole game called journalism: Get it right; and don't be boring. Because if you're boring, you're dead. I'll say it this way: [The] press is written into the Constitution like the judiciary, the executive and the legislative, except they didn't leave us any money. We have to find our own money to do it. So if people don't want to purchase your product, you're dead. So I like Borat; I like Jackass; I like Charles Kuralt; I like Colbert; I like 60 Minutes. I like kitty cats and YouTube. Put them all together, shake it up, and give me something — give me something smart and give me something entertaining. That's my mantra."

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Sunday, January 13, 2013

This week: Victor Frankl, Elizabeth Wurtzel and "Stop This Train."

Thursday, January 03, 2013

New Year's resolutions

I want to let go of being angry and start choosing to be happy.

I want to stop being such a child about certain things.

I want to focus on doing things that interest and excite me.

I want to stop being fake.

I want to give more.

I want to know what the true meaning of joy is.

I want to find out what it really means to be a Christian.

I want to invite more friendships into my life.

I want to feel at peace about my decisions.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

New Year's Day

It's the first morning of the year. *Cold* morning, even just before 9 a.m. when the sun has had a little time to warm things up. I park my car in the work parking lot, one of the lucky few who gets to be there on New Year's Day. I close the door, grabbing my iPad, lunch, purse and water bottle. Suddenly I hear a loud voice from beyond the wall of the parking lot, "Happy New Year!" I can't see who it is exactly, but I smile and chuckle. Yes, it will be a happy new year, at work, I think sarcastically.

I get to the crosswalk and wait for the light. A black woman in grey sweats walks up to me. "Happy New Year!" she says again, with a smile. I get all shy and half-smile and mumble, "Happy new year."

"Are you going to work?" she asks me.

"Yeah," I respond.

"My name's Elizabeth," she says. I'm still looking at the light, waiting for it to change to the WALK signal.

"Can I have 75 cents?" she asks me. Ah, so this is what it's all about. But why the hell not? I look in my coin purse but don't see any quarters. I end up pulling a dollar out of my wallet. "Here you go," I say. Her eyes light up a little bit and she thanks me. Finally I go on my way.

It always surprises me that homeless people find things to smile about. And I, well, don't. True, I've dealt with some unpleasantness this holiday, getting a lovely Christmas flu and dealing with an erratic work schedule. But I can't deny I've had a rich Christmas, too, materially and otherwise. I literally got hundreds of dollars worth of gifts this year. I spent the holidays surrounded by my sisters and mom and dad and felt warm and comfortable knowing they love me.

It should be enough to put a smile on my face. But it's not. I'm not the one greeting people on the street with a smile on New Year's Day, instead I'm thinking about how unfair life is because I have to go to work when I wish I was in bed. Ugh. Maybe I should be the one thanking Elizabeth, for giving me a new perspective on the year.