5 Facts About Me You May or May Not Want to Know

A few days ago, Sydney over at Antipodal Pull was kind enough to nominate me for the Mystery Blogger award.  Like her, I tend to have disdain for blogger awards.  But, also like her, I have been trying to get back into the blogging community.

To be completely honest, I’m a bit unhappy with my blog and blogging habits at the moment.  I’m not taking it too seriously, because life is a bit crazy at the moment and I know it will calm down soon, and then I’ll be able to find a new normal.  But it’s been a bit of a downer, not being able to blog or brainstorm at often or as regularly as I want.

That’s one of the reasons I was pretty thrilled that Sydney thought of me for this award — I feel like it’s a good brainstorming and writing exercise, and it’s a way to ease back into regular blogging.  The other reason is that I really enjoy her blog (which you should check out), and the fact that she thought of me made me smile.  So, Sydney — thank you!

Here are the questions she posed to her nominees:

 

What’s your most productive work environment?

I work best in a neat room with a lot of natural light.  If the light is ugly, or the room is too messy, I won’t be able to focus very well.  Ideally, there should be some low background noise — instrumental music is best because I can get distracted by lyrics.  And then, if I have a cup of coffee and a blanket to throw on my lap, I’m a happy camper.  I can sit for hours and be productive like that.

Who was your first celebrity crush?

Tom Hiddleston.  I saw him first in Thor and thought he was the greatest looking person I had ever seen.  I had an obsessive Pinterest board for awhile, and decided I was going to watch every film he’d ever been in.  That goal didn’t last very long, and the board got deleted when I starting dating my fiancee.  I still think he’s a very talented actor though.

Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled?

Hands down, the American southwest.  Specifically, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.  I went on a road trip with my mom, aunt, and brother last spring, and the desert out there is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life.  And the culture is absolutely fascinating — it’s like a huge mix of US, Mexican, and indigenous history.  And did I mention how beautiful it is?  I only had my beat up iPhone on the trip, but that doesn’t disguise the absolute gorgeousness.  I mean, look at this trail going down into the Grand Canyon.  Does it get better than that??  No.  No, it does not.

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What’s (one of) your biggest goal(s) in life?

I still want to travel much more than I have.  I want to go back to Central America, and I want to visit South America, and I would love to go to Spain, and I want to see India, and Australia would be incredible, and there’s still so much of the US I haven’t seen.  I don’t think I’ll ever live anywhere other than the US, but that doesn’t mean I can’t at least give myself a taste of the rest of the world.

Also, not to lose my ability to play the flute or speak Spanish.  Those are both things I love doing, and I have done neither of those things in a long time.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Honestly, right now, I do not know, and I have too many wedding things to do to spend the time I would need to spend to properly reflect on this.  However, this is a good question, so maybe it will turn into its own blog post later.

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Here’s Why Rescinding DACA Sucks (including links to help you speak out)

Last Tuesday, Trump decided to end DACA.

It’s no secret that I am very much not on the Trump train, and this just adds to the reasons why.

Trump claims that the reason behind moving to rescind DACA is basically that it’s not good enough, and that the US isn’t ready for a “comprehensive immigration plan.” But if that were the real reason, and he honestly wanted a better immigration process, he wouldn’t be rescinding DACA. Rescinding means taking a step back, not moving forward.

Trump claims that the 800,000 DACA recipients — DREAMers — are taking jobs away from millions of Americans. Those are his words. I have two problems with that.

First of all, like most of the things Trump says, it’s highly illogical. It’s literally impossible for 800,000 people to “take” jobs from millions. It’s true that 800,000 people (if they all have jobs, that is) are preventing another 800,000 people from having those exact same jobs, but by that logic, I’m taking a job away from someone else too. So is my fiancé. So is almost everyone I know. Yes, the job market may be brutal, but you don’t “take away” someone else’s job by having a job yourself. That doesn’t make sense.

Second, DACA recipients, by definition, have grown up in the US. They are children of people who have come here illegally, so while they are technically also undocumented, they have spent almost their entire lives in the US, living as and among Americans. Culturally, socially, and mentally, they are Americans. They pay for American goods, work jobs that serve Americans, and go to American schools. As residents, they’re contributing members of American society, and most of them don’t know anything different. They are Americans. The only thing they lack is the paperwork, and DACA was Obama’s attempt to give them the time they need to make their status legal. What will the US gain by taking that chance away?

I can’t answer that, but I can tell you what we will lose.  By rescinding DACA, we will lose hundreds of thousands of people that could be bettering and investing in our society.  We will lose more respect than we’ve already lost by electing Trump in the first place.  And we will lose the trust of everyone, not just DREAMers, who were told that the US government would welcome them, help them, and value them.  The only thing rescinding DACA will accomplish is announcing to the world that if you weren’t born American, Trump doesn’t care about you.  But I’m pretty sure we all knew that already.

Trump’s America is the opposite of what America is supposed to be.  Emma Lazarus wrote the famous poem “The New Colossus” in 1883, as an effort to fundraise for part of the Statue of Liberty.  We all know the famous lines:

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Starting DACA was one way Obama tried to put those lines into practice.  Trump may as well take the torch from Lady Liberty.

Unless, of course, Congress passes the Dream Act of 2017.  

This act was initially introduced in 2001, but it didn’t pass.  Now, with DACA being rescinded, it has been introduced again.  You can read the actual text here, but in a nutshell, the Dream Act would protect DREAMers from deportation and give them a legalization process, which DACA did not do.  It is not a perfect process, I’m sure, but it would be much, much better than deporting 800,000 people.

From what I’ve read, phone calls are the best way to get noticed by your congressmen.  However, any way to make your voice heard helps, so here’s how to find your representative and your senator.  Let’s get the Dream Act passed and stop the ridiculousness.

 

What September Means

By the time this post is published, it will be September.  For the last 17 years, September has meant going back to school.  But not this year.

I thought it would feel weirder than it feels right now.  I thought that in August, when my younger social media friends are posting about school life, that I would feel like I should be in school, not working still.  But it doesn’t.  It’s September, I’m still working, and it feels normal.

Maybe it’s because I’m used to being busy during the day.  Maybe it’s because the weather hasn’t turned cooler yet.  Maybe it’s simply because I’m distracted by all the other things I’m doing right now.  Whatever the reason, I haven’t felt sentimental yet.

Okay, that’s not completely true.  I do miss being on campus surrounded by beautiful buildings and other people my age.  I miss all the free time I had, even if a lot of it was spent doing homework.  I miss having most of my close friends close by.

But there are a lot of things I don’t miss.  For one, I don’t miss actually being in class.  By the time May came around, I was more than ready to say goodbye to that.  I like learning, but when you’ve been sitting in classes for 17 years, it gets old.

I also don’t miss living off one lump sum.  I was lucky enough not to have to get loans, so when I worked during breaks, it was pretty much solely for my living expenses, and I always made just enough for exactly that.  But I really had to watch my spending.  While I haven’t quit doing that now, of course (budgeting is a good idea for every stage of life), it’s been nice to have a regular paycheck that doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon.

And perhaps most importantly, I do not miss living with roommates.  I had good roommates, as they go, but I am so, so not a people person.  I hated living with the possibility of anyone coming in at any hour.  Now, aside from living with my fiance (which is wonderful, by the way), I’m in complete control of my household.  No one comes to our house unless we are expecting and inviting them, and that’s exactly the way I like it.

I know a few people who get really sentimental and nostalgic about anything once it ends, even if it was awful while it was happening.  In a way, I guess that’s good.  It makes you happy with your life.  If you look back and see only the good stuff, how can you not be satisfied with the way your life is going?  But I don’t remember stuff like that.  In fact, I probably lean more the opposite way.

Even with my mostly-pessimistic views, however, it seems to me that the older I get, the more my life improves.  High school was pretty good.  College was even better.  And now, during my first September ever not being in school, I’m getting married and trying to start a career.  Apparently, September will always hold some kind of significance for me, and if things go the way they’ve been going, the future looks pretty darn great.

Modern Day Corsets

My mom and I ordered my wedding gown back in May.  It came in in August, just a few weeks ago.  Rather than spend almost the cost of the dress on tailoring, we decided to take it to a family friend who does alterations for a living.

The dress came in, I traveled to Knoxville, we went to the friend’s house for a fitting.

Once we got there, I took off my normal clothes and put the dress on, wearing my normal bra.  The woman looked at the dress, agreed that yes, it was too big and would need some taking in, and then refused to measure me until I had purchased a strapless, longline corset bra.  We spent the rest of the visit looking online at undergarments.

Why did she refuse to measure me?  Well, she’s in her 60s.  She grew up in a different era.  In her words, “weddings are about beauty, not about comfort.”  I thought they were about two people choosing each other for life, but I guess I was wrong.  Weddings are about me looking “my best,” and “my best” apparently means even skinnier than I already am, with bigger boobs and a completely smooth torso, giving no sign that I have abs, a belly button, or even hip bones.

At the time, I said, fine.  I just need this dang gown altered, and if this is what it takes, so be it.  My parents are paying for half of my wedding, and my mom apparently is fine with paying almost $100 on constricting undergarments.  So if she’s okay with adding this to the cost, okay.

But then we started actually looking for these “undergarments.”  My gown has a lowish back, and it’s been difficult to find anything that will be low enough to go under it.  Plus, no one actually carries these types of bras in stores, so we’ve had to look online.  So this means we have had to guess if a certain bra will be low enough, guess at my bra size because everything is sized differently, order a bra at $70 or more, wait for it to ship, try it on, find out it doesn’t fit, and then send it back and go through the hassle of an online return.

I thought the whole thing was ridiculous before, and now I really do.  I’m not even comfortable in the bras I’ve tried on.  I can’t breathe in them.  I can’t really bend.  How am I supposed to enjoy my wedding if I am tied in to a literal corset, like in the 1800 and 1900s?  And then there’s the fact that I, the bride, think I look perfectly fine in the dress without a longline corset bra.  Sure, it’s thin fabric, and when it’s pulled tight, like it’s supposed to fit, you can see the outline of my belly button and hip bones.  But so what?  That’s what I look like.  I’m a real human being, with real bones and muscles.  Humans look weird and lumpy sometimes.  And then there’s the fact that I’m very skinny.  It’s how I’m built.  It’s not as if I want something to hold in my stomach, because I don’t really have one.  If I did, and if I wanted a bra to suck me in a bit on my wedding day because I knew I would feel self-conscious about myself if I didn’t, then I wouldn’t have a problem with this.  But at this point, it’s as if this woman who we asked to alter my dress is trying to hide the fact that I am an actual human.

I know that’s not what she means.  In fact, she probably hasn’t given this a second thought, because most brides today do wear undergarments like this.  But I don’t think I need it, and I don’t want to wear one.  I stated this, and was overruled by this much louder, much older woman.  What happened to my preferences for my own wedding day?

As my mom and I have already ordered several bras, if one of them fits and works under the dress, I will wear it.  I’m trying to pick my battles, or maybe I’m just being a pushover.  But even if I end up with a corset bra, I have sworn to myself that I’m only wearing it for the alterations and the ceremony.  After that, I will ditch it for a sticky bra, because I want to be comfortable for my reception.  And if none of the bras we have ordered fit, I will repeat these thoughts to the alterations lady, and I will get my dress fitted on just my normal body, and I will wear a sticky bra for the entire ceremony and reception.  Screw longline corset bras.  They’re more like medieval torture devices, and it is 2017, after all.

Revisiting Christianity

Before

In the very early days of this blog, I was still in high school.  I started it the summer before my senior year, when I still identified myself as a Christian and still tried to read my Bible every day.  I had “professed” (if you can call it that) faith in Christ at 8 years old, but had only really begun exploring Christianity in 8th grade, when I met my friend Paula.  Paula, whose dad was a pastor, moved here from Florida and was (and still is) a strong Christian.  She encouraged me to be intentional about the faith I had chosen as an 8-year-old, and I began doing the typical Christian things — I read my Bible every day and tried to pray.  But while I enjoyed the intellectual aspect of studying religion (and the friendships that came with Bible study groups), I never truly enjoyed being a Christian.  I mostly felt guilty instead.  So when this blog began, I was still trying.  A lot of my very early posts reference God or the Bible studies I was doing at the time.  But by then, my senior year of high school, trying to be a good person and a good Christian was wearing on me.  I started getting tired of it.  By the time I finished my freshman year of college, I decided that being my own, independent person did not include calling myself a Christian.

College

I know I’m only a few months removed, but my college years were some of the best of my life.  I felt more free to be completely me (and that girl really isn’t too different than “Christian” Sarah — just less guilty).  I learned to speak Spanish.  I began blogging really regularly and found that it’s not just a hobby, it’s something I want to do for a long time.  And I met my two best friends, one of whom will become my husband (in only 32 days, in case you’re curious).  It was a really fun time, and I grew up a lot.  I also fell into a more relaxed stance with Christianity, not claiming the Christian title but not completely ruling it out in the future, either.

Now

Right now, getting married is my main focus.  All the details are falling into place.  (And god, will I be glad when planning is over.)  Christopher and I, after booking food, clothes, and flowers, finally found someone to do our wedding and premarital counseling.  Part of the reason it took us so long to find someone was because 1) we are living together and didn’t think either of our home pastors would be okay with that, and 2) neither of us knew what kind of ceremony we wanted, anyway, since both of us grew up Christian but can’t really call ourselves that sincerely.

My mom (bless her) finally convinced me to talk to an old friend about doing our counseling — Paula’s dad, the pastor from Florida.  I agreed because as much as I dislike admitting it, my mom is right a lot of the time, and I was also really feeling the stress about having an entire wedding put together but no one to actually do the thing.  So a couple weeks ago, during a whirlwind of bridal showers, we sat down and talked to Paul.  As I suspected, he started out asking us both about our faith, which was a little uncomfortable.  But once he figured out where we both stand, he explained that he would be happy to do our counseling, as long as we were both open to really and truly considering Christianity again.

That seemed fair to both of us.  So now we are meeting with Paul once a week via Facebook video, where we’re doing 30 minutes of traditional premarital counseling and 30 minutes of faith discussion.  He’s given us a book to read, and also asked that we read certain books of the Bible.  He knows we are both fact-based people, and like it when we can see evidence of something, so he’s tailoring our discussions that way rather than talk about how much Christianity makes people feel.  So far, it’s been enjoyable, and it’s sparked discussions between Christopher and I.

Right now, I’m taking a school-like approach to it, because that’s what I know how to do.  I’m taking notes on what I think, and trying to look at the Bible objectively, instead of giving the “church answer.”  In our sessions, we’ve already established the fact that choosing to be a Christian shouldn’t be taken lightly — an 8-year-old cannot possibly fully understand what it is to be a Christian and truly make that commitment.  It takes more thought and consideration than what we typically tell kids in the church today (and that’s a whole other issue we may or may not discuss here later).  So, instead of completely rejecting Christianity, I am beginning to take a hard look at what real Christianity truly requires, and then I’ll decide if that’s what I want for myself.

It’s a little uncomfortable, because I’m afraid of what might happen if one of us, after really considering Christianity, decides to take it on and the other doesn’t.  But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

What I’ve Been Reading: July/August 2017

While I’ve been neglecting my blog, I’ve been exploring the libraries and bookstores in my new city.  As it turns out, the libraries here fell way below my expectations, especially compared to the city where I grew up.  I jokingly-but-not wish I had visited the libraries before I moved here, but it is what it is.  And we do at least have a McKay’s, which is a giant, hugely popular book, movie, and music thrift shop — the absolute best kind of shop for browsing.  So here’s what I’ve picked up in the last couple of months.

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A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly

My mom likes to say her favorite movie genre is “based on a true story,” and mine has become the same.  Sometime this summer, we watched the movie Lion.  Saroo, born in India, got lost as a 5-year-old and lived on the streets of Calcutta for months.  He eventually ended up being adopted by an Australian family when no one could figure out where he came from.  He grew up Australian, but as an adult, remembered snippets of India, and used Google Maps to track his way back to his birth family.  The movie is an incredible, chilling rendition of this incredible, chilling true story.  Stuff like this cannot be made up; when they say the truth is stranger than fiction, this story is what they’re talking about.  Read this book; watch the movie.  This is one I won’t forget for a long time.

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Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood by Koren Zailckas

Another true story/memoir/autobiography, this is the testimony of Koren, a girl who was introduced to alcohol at age 14 and didn’t look back for almost a decade.  Written during the time of her life when she realized just how much of life she was missing out on because of alcohol, it’s a detailed reflection of what could almost be considered lost years.  Koren, once she had had a taste, used alcohol to fill all the voids in her life because she didn’t know what else to do.  She drank her way through middle school, high school, and college, never quite getting physically addicted but never able to give it up.  It’s sad story, and sluggish at times because of the sheer amount of detail in it.  But Koren has a way with words.  She uses a lot of metaphor, which has drawn a lot of criticism on Goodreads, but I enjoyed her writing style because it felt graceful and genuine.  It’s obvious that Koren still has issues to work through, but don’t we all?

My final comments on this story are these: when I was glancing through the Goodreads reviews, I was appalled by the sheer amount of people who seem to hate Koren (not just her book, but Koren herself) because she was a sorority girl and because she wrote and was successful with this book so soon after she stepped away from alcohol for good.  What the crap, people?  Can’t we just let this girl help herself through her writing, through sharing her story?  The book was a New York Times best seller — it’s obvious that this is something that affects a lot of us.  Why tear down something that Koren should be proud of?

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Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle

This is a story, told in reverse, of a man named Sean who shrinks from society after a horrible accident that disfigured his face.  He makes a living by creating and running an adventure game that is played through the mail.  But when two teen players experience tragedy because they attempted to recreate the game in the real world, Sean has to face the world again, and at the same time, his past.

This was a weird book to read.  Sean has a pleasant, nonchalant tone about him, but it’s obvious he hides something.  His life, and the chapters, are quiet, but things are revealed each chapter almost without the reader noticing.  As you piece together his life, and how it turned out this way, it gets more and more horrible.  And while the how behind his disfigurement is revealed, the why is much harder to grasp.  A lot of this book is implicit, but it’s obvious it deals with self-hate and depression without offering much hope or ways out.  This is one I would love to read with others in an analytical setting.

The Handm12961964aid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

I’ll be honest; I only read this book because none of the other books I wanted to read were available at the library, and because of the new Hulu show based on it (which I haven’t seen).  And I wasn’t really that impressed.  It was boring and hard to get into at first.  It’s a book that very obviously tries to make a point, and so it’s a little two-dimensional.  I feel like the explanation for the dystopian society was a little weak and lacking in depth.  The characters were a bit flat also.  Some of my complaints could be because the whole book is supposed to be the transcript of a recording that was made supposedly long ago.  It’s a historical document being analyzed by professors in the year 29something.  But even so, this just wasn’t anything that particularly struck me.  If you want to read about dystopia, read the Hunger Games trilogy.  They’re put together much better.

Small Admissio30827125ns by Amy Poeppel

This is the story of Kate Pearson, who finds herself thrown for a complete loop after her serious boyfriend dumps her.  She wallows in her sadness for months, but after her sister’s prodding, finally gets a job in admissions at a prestigious private school.  As she’s getting back on her feet, her friends are keeping secrets, parents are doing inane things for an acceptance at the school, and her sister is learning to let go.

This is a fluffy book, like I expected it to be.  And it was delightful.  I did have a couple complaints — a parent of a student-hopeful begins to narrate about a third of the way through the book, which threw me for a loop.  I think she should have been introduced earlier.  And near the end, I felt the story had wrapped up nicely, and then there was an incident that seemed to drag the book out a few more chapters and didn’t do a whole lot for Kate’s character arc.  But overall, this was so fun to read.  The characters were interesting and distinct, there were surprises I didn’t see coming, and it was a great story about changing your expectations for life and being okay with that.  It was definitely a few hours well spent.

All images from Goodreads.

Goals Update Summer 2017

So, it’s been two months since I did my first goal post for this summer.  In the midst of getting engaged, graduating, moving, job hunting, adjusting to a new job, and wedding planning, this blog has fallen by the wayside a bit.  But I miss it, and everyone I’ve come to get to know a little bit through WordPress.  I haven’t kept up with the blogging community, or my goals, as much as I wish I could this summer.  But today I get to remedy that by taking a quick look at what my goals were for this summer (yikes).

  1. Be selfless — nothing in my life affects me and only me.  Honestly, I’d forgotten all about this one.  I don’t know that I’ve been more selfish than normal (though I definitely have my moments), but I haven’t intentionally been selfless either.  Although I’ve managed to get my attitude somewhat, kind of in check about having a traditional, fairly expensive wedding, which was why I made this goal in the first place. I better not think about that too much, though, so moving on.
  2. Communication
    1. Talk to myself.  I have, but again, no more than normal.  Although a couple times lately I’ve noticed myself sliding into a sour mood, and told myself to get it together, and it’s helped a little (when it doesn’t make me more annoyed than I already am, anyway).  Actually, one of my new coworkers has helped with this a bit — she’s always sweet and kind, even when she’s stressed or pissed or doesn’t feel good, and it’s a great example for me.
    2. Make it a point to speak to people I don’t see on a regular basis.  Well, I’ve spoken to people I don’t see often, but only a few times has it been me initiating.  Still, mission accomplished?  I guess?
    3. Always tell my fiance if something is bothering me.  And here, folks, we have a work in progress.  There was something a few days ago, and I brought it up (after a few days of stewing and knowing I should bring it up), and he didn’t see the issue as a problem and/or was too uncomfortable to talk about it like I wanted to, and so I let it go.  So I guess props to me for actually speaking up, but fail to both of us for not following through.  I’m hoping premarital counseling might help with our weird communication issues.
  3. Be assertive.  I have tried to do this.  A big thing has been in choosing wedding details.  I don’t normally like being the one to make choices, especially about small details, because I usually don’t care that much.  But I’ve had to make myself care, and I’ve had to learn to just say, “Let’s do this,” because as the bride-to-be, I’m the one everyone turns to for final decision making.  As I’ve learned the policies at my new job, too, I’ve tried to be assertive and confident.  I can’t run to my supervisor every time a customer gives me an issue, especially if it’s about a policy I know back and forth.  I need to present myself as competent, even if I’m not as confident as I seem.

This summer has been a whirlwind, and it’s not going to stop anytime soon.  The most I can do, I guess, is try to enjoy it as much as possible.  That’s what life’s about anyway, isn’t it?

Would OITNB Be the Same Without the Language?

Orange is the New Black is one of my absolute favorite TV shows.  At first, I liked it because it was entertaining, and I’d never seen anything like it.  I continue to love it because the characters are incredible.  Every one of them has good and bad traits — I love them sometimes and they annoy me at others, just like they would in real life.  It portrays real people making realistic decisions, and that’s my favorite thing about the show.

My parents, on the other hand, are not fans (understatement).  They don’t like the lesbian themes (although there aren’t nearly as many sex scenes in the later seasons are there were in the first few), and they really don’t like the language.  I don’t watch the show when I’m at my parents’ house anymore, even in my own room late at night, because someone might wander around and hear it.

The language can be excessive.  It doesn’t bother me anymore, partly because I’ve heard it all before. I don’t swear much myself, but many of my friends in college did, and it became a normal thing to hear. Unless it’s specifically directed at someone, I hear it more as a speaking style than something offensive. But I definitely understand that it’s not something everyone wants to hear when they’re trying to watch TV and relax.

So it begins the question: would Orange be the same show without the swearing?

The issue here is realism vs. portrayal. TV shows are art in that they are stylized portrayals of real or imagined life. Some shows, like Game of Thrones, we understand to be complete fiction. Others, like Orange, attempt to portray things that might actually happen in real life. They attempt to show plausibility rather than fantasy. And part of that plausibility is making characters as realistic as possible. Since real people swear a lot, it follows that some of the characters should also swear. It shows personality.

And there is a lot of nuance in the personalities of the characters on the show. Some characters don’t swear at all unless they are extremely enraged or provoked. Others use swear words as fillers and commas. The use of language is one way the writers show different characters’ backgrounds and values. The women from better socioeconomic backgrounds tend to swear less than those who come from poorer or more broken households. Or they just care less what others think of them.  Regardless of the meaning, swearing is a signifier.

It’s true that the writers could have shown that in ways other than swearing. But would it have been as realistic then? Would the characters feel as credible if none of them ever uttered so much as a “dammit”? Would it be the same if the swearing was simply toned down, but not erased from the script completely?

I want to say no. Swearing is a part of life, so why should it be erased from a show trying to portray that?  Plus, the women are in prison, and if that situation doesn’t call for the occasional swear word, I don’t know what does.

But as I mentioned above, I do understand the desire to watch TV without being inundated with bad language.  And while the show is already extremely popular, lessening the swearing might be a way to draw in even more viewers, and thus get more people hearing the stories the writers want to tell.  For example, if more people watched the show, maybe more people would realize how women prisoners are often treated and try to bring about change.  But on the flip side (again), real life people swear.  So would eliminating that and drawing in that kind of audience really help?  Would it really benefit the show’s message to erase the swearing, when it’s not a completely true portrayal of real life?

I don’t have a definite answer to this dilemma.  I enjoy the show as it is, and tend to believe that swearing, while offensive to some, is not one of the more important social issues.  And I know in my parents’ case, it would probably take more than eliminating the swearing to get them to watch the show, anyway.

What do you think?  Would reducing the swearing on Orange or other shows reduce the believability too much?

Three Cities; Three Local Coffee Shops to Check Out

I’ve been reluctant to publish on this blog exactly where I live, but it’s getting to the point where I’m really owning the cities I’ve lived in. I’m old enough now to not feel stuck in one place (thank goodness for my ugly old Honda), and so I can appreciate a city’s culture much more than I did when in high school. And when I go exploring, and discover great places, I want to share them! Place is such an important part of life (also of the marketing mix, in case you were curious), and I’m ready to begin sharing some of my places with you.

So where am I from? Tennessee, y’all. It’s one of the most beautiful, vibrant places in this entire country. We have the Smoky Mountains to the east, the rolling farmland of middle TN, and the beginning of plains country right before you hit Arkansas.

I’ve lived in 3 cities in TN; two east and one middle. And I’ve found a good local coffee shop in each of them, one that I’ve claimed (or plan to claim) as my own. So if you ever visit any of these 3 cities, here are the coffee shops you need to check out.

Knoxville: K Brew

K Brew
Source: K Brew’s Site

Knoxville is where I grew up, and thanks to my mom’s outgoing nature, I know or know of a ton of people there. One of the founders of K Brew happens to be the son of my high school band director.

That connection was what made me come in initially, but I stayed for the coffee. K Brew can be a tad pretentious about their coffee, but they have every right to be. They do not skimp on quality. They also have a really cool culture — in addition to two very nice locations, including one downtown, the baristas are encouraged to create new drinks. Some of the drinks are then sold seasonally, with a portion of the proceeds from that drink going to the creator of it. One drink that came from that tradition is their Honey Lavender Latte — a definite splurge at $6, but one that is well worth it. And, if the coffee culture at K Brew really intrigues you, they hold free cuppings every Sunday night so you can learn exactly what it is that makes their coffee so good.

Cookeville: Poet’s Coffee

Poet's Coffee
Source: Poet’s Site

Poet’s is the Cookeville hangout. On any given day, it’s full of college students, young moms, and business professionals all enjoying quaint downtown Cookeville — and of course, good coffee. I spent my fair share of time there in college, doing some studying, but mostly catching up with friends. My favorite drink there is the Iced Vietnamese, a luscious blend of coffee and condensed milk.

They also have seasonal drinks as well as a basic menu, and they serve delicious — and affordable — breakfast and lunch food. I’ve found that while most coffee shops offer some type of snack, Poet’s leads in offering filling, protein packed food as opposed to sugary pastries. Although they have those, too — the house made chocolate chip espresso muffin is to die for. And, if all that’s not enough to make you want to stop by, they also sell handmade, local jewelry, and they have live music every Friday night. What’s not to love?

Chattanooga (Hixson): Sour Dough Cuppa Joe

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Source: Sour Dough’s FB Page

Funnily enough, the owners of this shop are a couple that my parents knew when they were dating. The shop itself is fairly new, however — it’s only been around a couple years or so. So far, I’ve only been a few times, but I can already tell it’s a good one. The Irish Cream Latte I got the other day was a treat.

But what Sour Dough is really known for is their baked goods. They offer scones, cinnamon buns, quiche, and other stuff that you can make at home, but it just won’t be as good. And the owners and employees are just as personable as they can be. Plus, the shop is inside an old drive in restaurant building — it’s very different, and very cute. My other favorite thing about this shop so far is that it’s not in downtown Chatt. The fiance and I both enjoy downtown, and it’s true that there are tons of local coffee shops there. But downtown is not super close to where we ended up living. Hixson is a smaller, more inexpensive, less crowded community, and it still has good coffee. Win!

This post is not sponsored by any of these coffee shops; all opinions are completely my own. I just really like coffee shops! (Also, what it it with coffee shops and round logos?? Is it that it evokes the idea of a coffee cup? I must know!)

Just Admit You Love Your Wife

The other day, I took my car in for an oil change.  It was a bit overdue, and I had a coupon, so I ended up at the local Midas with my fiance.  While we waited for the mechanics to get done with my car, we chatted some with the manager.  He saw that we were a young couple, so he ended up telling us the story of how he met his wife.  It went something like this.

“I’m not from here originally; I’m from up north.  I came down here 30 years ago for a two week bike trip.  But close to the end of the trip I got into a wreck; some woman hit me as I was driving down a mountain.  I ended up in the hospital for awhile.  Right before I was supposed to be released the nurse came to do one last check and I told her, ‘I’m only here for a day or two more.  Wanna go on a date?’ I didn’t think she’d say yes, but she did.  I got back up north, and after a couple weeks I called her and said, ‘I’m thinking of moving down south.’  And she said, ‘Okay.  You can move in with me.’  So I moved in with her and her roommate, and six months later we were married.  We’ve been together 30 years now.  That’s a lot longer than most guys my age.”

At that point my thought was, How cute!

Then he added, “Thirty years…it’s about time for me to get a new one, don’t you think?  Ha ha ha.”

The cuteness vanished.  Instead of thinking how sweet his story was, I felt sorry for his wife.  I don’t know his life, or his relationship, or his wife.  But I would bet that he doesn’t say stuff like that to her.  To me, it sounded like he still loves her.  I mean, he told us their story in detail, and seemed proud that his marriage had lasted longer than many of his friends’, even if it was because it began earlier.

I could be wrong, of course.  It could’ve been that they married when they were very young, and realized they weren’t right for each other, but stayed together anyway.  They could be having issues.  I don’t know.  But that comment really rubbed me the wrong way.

Making that thoughtless comment, in my opinion, devalues the person you’ve committed your life to, for better or worse.  Most marriages, at least in the beginning, are entered into because two people love each other and plan on doing so by combining their lives for, hopefully, the rest of them.  Thirty years ago, the man that did my oil change loved and valued his wife enough to envision a life with her, and to commit to her.  But now he feels okay joking that it’s been 30 years, and for whatever reason — they don’t love each other anymore? he’s restless? she’s too old? — he should “get a new one.”

It’s been said, but I’ll say again — women aren’t like cars that you can just replace when you get tired of them, or when they quit running as well as they used to, or when you decide you like the newer model better.  Marriage is a serious commitment, and whatever your situation is, you’re not going to make it any better by joking about replacing your wife like you would a vehicle.

As I said above, I bet the man doesn’t say stuff like that to his wife, even jokingly.  And I do understand that the comment was meant as a joke.  But why is staying married to your wife for 30 years, which to me is an incredible accomplishment, something he felt like he needed to make an excuse for?  Does staying married to one person, admitting you love her to strangers, make you feel so uncomfortably vulnerable that you have to joke that oh, I don’t love her that much?

know he didn’t mean any of this.  Even my fiance, when I mentioned it later, didn’t think anything of it.  It’s seen as normal, because tons of guys make this joke.  Everyone gets that it’s a joke, so it’s okay.  Right?

I don’t think so.  To me, a woman who will be a wife very soon, it sounded harsh and stinging.  I wouldn’t have wanted to have been his wife, even though she wasn’t around to hear the comment.  I’m tired of jokes like this, about wives being the “ball and chain” and about how 30 years is too long to have one wife, especially given the fact that marriage is more beneficial for men than women.  See this quote from the link:

“Not marrying or cohabiting is less detrimental among woman than men,” said Dr George Ploubidis, a population health scientist at the UCL Institute of Education.

“Being married appears to be more beneficial for men.”

I’m ready for us as a society to quit devaluing women as wives.  Not spouting off comments like the one he made would be a great place to start.