Archive for April, 2012

How Simple is That?!?

Posted: April 21, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have to begin by admitting that I’ve never really read “Real Simple” before.  But I was trying to avoid work, and I clicked on a link from CNN from Real Simple about “50 New Uses for Old Things,” and some of them were pretty cool.  So I was still trying to avoid work, and I saw the article that said “10 Ways to Make Your Marriage Divorceproof.

Hey, why not read that, right?

Oh. My. God.

So I’m kind of skimming it.  The first one was okay – “realize that if you can agree on what constitutes a clean room, you can agree on anything.”  Yeah, I’ll buy that – it’s about learning to see things from the same standpoint.

Then number two is “if you’re irritated by your partner, imagine him as a small child.”  Seriously?  Because, you know, all men are idiots and act like children.  Now I’m feeling insulted on behalf of men.

Number three, though, is the total winner.  It’s bad enough that the header is “no fisticuffs in public.”  So, beating each other in private is okay?  I had to read the whole thing.  And then I get to this part… “Take this example: We were at a picnic with a group of friends when the wife of one of the couples present casually announced that she had bought their family a house. In another country. Without consulting the husband.”

Wait, wait, wait, wait!

She had bought a house.

Not a pair of expensive shoes.  Or a dress.  Or even a new dining room table.  A bleepity-bleep-bleep house!

Who runs out and can just pick up a house?  What else does she buy for fun?  A stable of horses, along with the stable?  A couple of Maseratis?

How is this “Real Simple”??  What is simple about buying a house?  Or the person who could run out and do that? I suppose I must be far more “complex” than I thought…

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / AnatolyMSo for those who don’t know, Augusta National has a male-only membership policy.  It only seems to hit the news when it comes time for the Masters Tournament.

First off, let me say that I don’t care about golf.  Really.  I have always agreed with George Carlin’s position – “you found the ball, be happy, now go home.”  But a lot of people do care about it.  Apparently, they care about it more than they care about the fact that the club is for men only.

CNN quoted a woman from North Carolina who said that “she sees no need for Augusta to open membership to women and would not let the controversy detract from the tournament.”  She, and her mother, both say that they have no issues with it because they like “tradition” and they’ve “never had anyone that [they’ve] met here who has a problem with the way things are.”

I am sooooo happy that we like tradition.  Like whites’ only water fountains?  Women not allowed to check themselves out of hospitals without husbands or fathers?  I suppose they also have no problem with human slavery – it’s still going on – because it’s a tradition, too.

The only way we’re going to start fixing the problems is if we start seeing them.  We can’t excuse things as “tradition” and move on with our lives.  I understand the concept behind having private versus public organizations, and how people can be refused service, but isn’t there a whole anti-discrimination law going on here?  Something about how you can’t refuse service to someone based on race, creed, or color? Federal laws prohibit discrimination based on a person’s national origin, race, color, religion, disability, sex, and familial status.

Image © Can Stock Photo Inc. / creatistaBecause it wasn’t bad enough that I spent 5 miserable years there, Our Lady of Sorrows (or, as any good George Carlin fan would call it, Our Lady of Perpetual Motion), is now kind enough to send their “Sorrow Scoops.”  (Seriously, who thought that was a good name?  It sounds like ice cream that would make you cry.) 

Anyway, so they send me this alumni pamphlet, and they don’t even spell my name right.  Talk about adding insult to injury.  It’s not like my name is hard to spell.  Katherine.  Easy, right?  Okay, not that easy.  I’ve seen it spelled plenty of other ways – Katharine, Kathryn.  Allowable options.  But Kathering?  WTF is that?

And the fact that they didn’t bother to catch it tells me that they are the same as ever.  They don’t care.  They never did.

Their little tag line claims that they have been providing students “…with a safe, structured and caring environment in which to grow, both academically and spiritually…”  Wow.  The stories I could tell.  If they considered any of the time I spent there “safe, structured, or caring…”

I’ll just tell one story for now.  Just one.  But I think it’s an excellent illustration of why I want to save up a stack of the pamphlets until I can use them to start a fire.

In fourth grade, the first year I was there, some other students watched Saturday Night Live and learned the terms “lezzy.”  Since my sister and I were foolish enough to still be friends and want to hold hands, we were called “lezzy.”  (Looking back, there’s perhaps another term they should have used, but no one said they were intelligent…)  Needless to say, things escalated because the school had no idea how to handle bullying.  When it finally got bad enough, they came up with a brilliant solution.  Rather than actually handle the people responsible for the bullying, they would punish the entire floor – the 4th and 5th grade classes that my sister and I were in.  So instead of recess, we all had to stand in the hall. 

Yes, you read that right, “we.”  My sister and I were included in the punishment.  For being bullied?  For reporting it?  For being miserable with their “safe, structured, and caring environment”?

Whatever their brilliant reasoning was, it was only the beginning of a horrible period of my life, and I while I should probably just get over it, every time I get one of their little “isn’t our school wonderful” Sorrow Scoops, I’m only reminded of everything bad about them.

 

Encourage/Discourage Image by Stuart Miles

So lately I’ve been thinking a lot about motivation.  And the lack of it. 

 

But back when I was working on my Ph.D., I read McKeachie’s teaching tips: Strategies, research, and theory for college and university teachers.  In it, one of the authors, Hofner, believed that motivation was based on choice, effort, and persistence.  She also pointed out the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.  Intrinsic is always stronger; however, it is not always present.  Sometimes that extrinsic motivation (the grade, the diploma) is the only thing there, and in those cases, teachers can use that to help motivate students who have not achieved internal motivation. 

 

Some of it the internal motivation is praising ourselves.  I just began reading “The Writer’s Workout,” which, so far, seems to be a very interesting and helpful book, and it brings up how we need to praise ourselves.  That helps.  Writers do have egos, and they do need stroking.  But sometimes that’s not enough (or even wrong).  Sometimes there’s a need for external motivation.

 

If writers just want to write for themselves, that’s internal motivation.  However, if they want to actually be published, they need to go to external motivation.  That’s people buying your work, liking your work, or even willingly talking to you about your work.

 

My external motivation that I’ve gotten lately, other than selling work, is the fact that I got accepted into two different MFA programs in Creative Writing/Fiction.  One even included a lovely note about how much they enjoyed my writing and how much they looked forward to working with me!  Lovely and nice to find that in the mailbox!

 

But there’s a limit to it – the motivation that is. 

 

While the praise and ego stroking is nice, there’s also what I consider the anti-motivator.  Sometimes we see what other people accomplish, and instead of it motivating us, it makes us competitive.  Like the episode of “Malcolm in the Middle” where a new teacher comes to the Kreylbornes and makes them compete with each other, our egos make us want to fight to come out on top.  We care if we’re 99.99995 or 99.99993.  And, really, why should that matter?

So let’s just forget about motivation and self-praise and ego stroking.  Let’s just write.