Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Tell Me A Story

I’ve noticed the word “I” in a lot of my blog posts. Maybe it’s because I’m super self-absorbed. I’m not going to attempt to deny that because it may then appear that I doth protest too much, but I think at least part of the reason is that I like stories – mine and other people’s.

I’ve always been fascinated by stories, always hungry for new ones. I think that’s why I am a voracious reader and, at times, TV watcher. (That’s another blog trend I’ve noticed.)

I used to skim through my parents’ religious self-helpy books looking for anecdotes used to illustrate a point. I didn’t care about the points the author was trying to make. I just cared about the stories.

I recently saw a comment online where the poster said he or she didn’t really care about personal stories and didn’t especially relate to that form of communication. That mentality almost doesn’t compute for me. I’m closer to being the opposite. If it’s not shared in the form of a narrative, I don’t care. That’s hyperbole but more true than not.

I want to hear about the time someone kissed you and their lip got stuck in your braces or when you talked your little brother into crawling into an underground pipe to rescue a kitten. 

Why do stories have such a powerful draw for me? I’m not sure.

When I was studying communication in college, I was introduced to theorist Walter Fisher, who put forth the argument that human communication is based on a narrative paradigm. We make judgments, he said, based on stories – based on whether we believe something has coherence and fidelity. We “experience and comprehend life as a series of ongoing narratives, as conflicts, characters, beginnings, middles, and ends.” *

(No, I can’t just quote communication theorists off the top of my head. I had to pull my intro to communication textbook off my shelf.)

I think his theory, like many of those I encountered as a communication major, provides an interesting way of interpreting human interaction. While it, like the others, is certainly not the only way of looking at things, it’s one that resonates with me. As I’ve experienced changes in life, beliefs, social circles, subcultures, I’ve often found myself trying to adapt to a new and unfamiliar narrative. At times I feel like I need to hear other people’s personal experiences before I can wrap my head around a new way of thinking. Realizing that everyone’s paradigm is not my own paradigm requires an understanding of those fresh “conflicts, characters, beginnings, middles, and ends” before I can feel comfortable with my new perspective.

I’m a big proponent of giving people a voice. I think their stories need to be told so that greater understanding can be gained. Everyone doesn’t think, feel or believe the same things. Some things are factual, and others are not factual, and the difference needs to be respected. The scientific method FTW! But human experience is complicated and nuanced, and I think there’s great value to letting people express those complications and nuances.

I know I’m a more compassionate person because I’ve heard the stories of people whose experiences were radically different from mine but for whom I felt a new empathy that allowed me to look beyond my own judgment, my own stark black and white, and identify with them.

I think that’s one thing I enjoy about my job at a newspaper. I retell people’s stories for them. While some of them aren’t the most compelling in the world, I know that they are narratives that make a difference for the people in the community. I know some of my stories end up clipped out and posted on refrigerators or workplace walls. When I’m not there anymore, my stories will be in newspapers turning yellow, saved for posterity, encapsulating a period in time and its conflicts, characters, beginnings, middles and ends.

*The quote is from Walter Fisher’s “Human Communication as Narration: Toward a Philosophy of Reason, Value, and Action.”

P.S. This is the final entry for my post every day for a month attempt. I was successful!  (Unless you count that one time that I thought I had published my post but really it was saved as a draft. It’s OK though because you can change the post date, and so I just made it look like I had posted it on that day. So that’s totally legit.) I don’t plan to continue posting every day, but I will keep writing for the blog, so stick around.


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  1. It’s impossible not to feel superior to people who don’t know how to drive in the snow or who start complaining about the cold when it’s 50 degrees.
  2. The first snowfall is always exciting.
  3. The second snowfall loses a bit of its charm.
  4. If you’re like me, you’ll spend most of the winter brushing snow off your car and muttering “why do I live here?” repeatedly.
  5. Nevertheless, Christmas in a warm part of the world is inconceivable.

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Ode to Ruffers

It’s always difficult to lose a beloved pet, and I see the loss of our family dog looming, if not within months, then certainly in a few years. He’s 14, and to be honest, I expected him to die a violent death as a young dog – he was always breaking away and dashing toward imminent danger – so old age is a bit of an accomplishment.

When we first met him, he was a tiny golden sausage with absurdly long lashes. Now he has fatty tumors and tends to start breathing raspily at the end of a short walk. He still has moments when he thinks he’s a puppy though.

In my opinion, he’s been the perfect dog. Soft, fluffy, cuddly – just mischievous enough to be interesting.

Perfection doesn’t mean that he is always obedient. No, he failed 4H dog obedience by four points, and some of the points he gained by lying still were due to the fact that he was too occupied by eating dog poop to move.

He wasn’t always perfectly friendly. Although he gets along well with people, he usually tries to start fights with other dogs, and he maayy have bitten a few people as a puppy.

He irritates my mom by coming into the kitchen when he isn’t supposed to. You can’t have a phone conversation with her without having her damage your eardrums by suddenly scolding him.

But he’s always happy to see you and usually happy to have you pet him, especially if you’re joined in the activity by everyone else in the room. A pet’s love isn’t like a person’s. It’s more straightforward; less tenuous. A couple of my college roommates accused me of liking animals more than people. While that’s an exaggeration, I do love my dog. I wish he had a longer lifespan and wasn’t now categorized as a “senior dog.”

Here he is:

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I have no blog ideas today. Or rather, I have a few, but they aren’t ones I really want to follow to their logical conclusion, so I’ll just follow them as far as I want to and then end abruptly.

Through a random following of links, I became aware of a recent Twitter trend – #literaryturducken. It’s based on the concept of a food turducken. Turns out I’m not completely sure what that is and am too lazy to Google it (that’s pretty lazy), but I’m fairly certain that it’s a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. Mmm. Mouthwatering.

Anyway, the Twitter trend is to combine three famous book titles into one delicious mashup. I’m finding them pretty amusing. They have included such things as “Hitchhiker’s Guide to Two Cities For Whom the Bell Tolls” and  “The Unbearable Lightness of Being Gone with the Wind in the Willows.” Here’s my contribution to the cause, which isn’t on Twitter, but whatever, whatever … “A Wrinkle in Flowers for Jude the Obscure.”

Next topic: WordPress suggests ideas for future entries whenever I post, and a recent one was whether or not I believe aliens have made contact with the earth. I don’t because there doesn’t seem to be compelling evidence that it has taken place and most people who seem sold on the idea are not the sort that I have much confidence in.

I got in a conversation with a coworker about whether or not the government could successfully cover up the fact that they were preparing for alien invasion. I argued that it would be too difficult to secretly mount the type of force necessary to keep the nation safe. The secret would slip somehow. She thought it could be done – the government’s budget is large; they could appropriate funds for something seemingly innocuous while really using it to get ready for alien attack. I told her to look at the influx of homeland security efforts and how difficult it would be to completely hide those. She countered that the government would probably cloak its alien task force as something like homeland security.

That sounded really plausible to me – so maybe I should buy into the alien cover up theory.

Welp. That’s about all I have to say. *ends abruptly*

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I’ve got a theme in mind for this week’s British TV Friday and will have it up ASAP, but I’ve got a friend coming over any minute, and I’m not sure if she’ll leave prior to midnight. Sooo … it could end up being British TV Saturday, in which case, this post covers my requirement of posting every day. On a technicality, perhaps, but it totally counts.

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I know this is terribly cliche, but on this Thanksgiving Day, I’m reminded of  all the things I have to be thankful for: a loving family, great friends (including those I had a chance to spend time with today), a job that allows me to make a living, and a day off from work for Thanksgiving, a home, my family’s pet dog, crunchy turkey skin, books, Netflix. Just kidding, just kidding. Sort of.

It’s good to take a moment to reminder how great my life is. It’s too easy to wish that it was different rather than being conscious of all the ways I wouldn’t want it to change.

I don’t have much more to say than that, so Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!


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  1. It is possible to convince your younger sibling/s that it’s normal for you to play with their toys while preventing them from playing with yours.
  2. Having an imaginary world populated by stuffed animals is awesome! (Of course, this world doesn’t contain your stuffed animals because those have to remain in pristine condition.)
  3. Once your sibling/s become stronger than you, it’s wise to avoid physical altercations.
  4. You’ll have to live under stricter rules than they have to. They should thank you that your music battles with parents allowed them to freely listen to screamo once they reached their teens.
  5. You’ll fight with them a lot less when you don’t live in the same house.

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