Category Archives: Cultural Musings

World’s Worst Jobs: Part 3

Standard

This is a continuation in a series I began a while back, where I analyze jobs I am thankful I don’t have. Check out part one and part two.

Circus Performer: Who actually does this, in our modern era? Pretty much only those born into it, or who are freakishly flexible and whose prospect for fame was greatly exaggerated, possibly due to being a member of The Abby Lee Dance Company. Please note that, while I romanticize running away with the circus, I realize they make peanuts (a suitable pun), have no job security or retirement plan, and are forced to wear sequins for, like, twelve hours a day. Do you know how itchy and uncomfortable that must be? Circus folk also take a lot of heat for abusing animals, shilling the rubes, and being hairy, more so than is decent for someone wearing such a skimpy v-neck. Truthfully, I thoroughly enjoy going to the circus when it comes to town (but have only attended sans child — now that he’s old enough to go I may rue the day we take him to the big top). However, I have a stable family, a mountain of debt, and no appropriate skill, which all prevent this dream of becoming a showman (showwoman?) a reality. Let’s break this category down a little further, with two especially unattractive options.

Acrobat: Vomit-inducing motion sickness unfortunately prevents me from considering participating in so many potentially life-threatening activities, that I’m assuming that walking the line (slang term for acrobat that I think I just made up) would be no different. How disappointing. Honestly, though, these people are literally one step, sneeze, or strong breeze away from meeting their maker. I cannot fathom the desire to follow in the family’s footsteps (another pun, but accurate, since we all know every acrobat does it as part of the family business — I’m looking at you, Flying Wallendas), when it is a career steeped in danger, as a quick google search will immediately reveal. These performers clearly have a lot of guts.

Clown: In fact, there is no safe circus job other than clown, right? Sad clown, happy clown, clown-car-extra clown, short clown, fat clown, clever clown, clumsy clown, hobo clown — there is no end to the types of clown someone could choose to portray in the circus. And yet, who wants to be a clown? When they aren’t giving the actual kinkers a break, they are probably the grunt workers, cleaning animal dung and kenneling the big cats. They have to wear so much makeup — there is a very good chance they all suffer from enlarged pores. Most distressingly, they make a living by terrifying children and 37-year-old female teachers in rural North Dakota…who live in my house…so me.

More to come.

Peace and love.

Light Reading for an Impending Apocalypse

Standard

I sit on my couch, cradling my aching head while trying — all at once — every known homeopathic remedy to fight my way through a sinus infection sans antibiotics, when my thoughts wander to a headline I recall scrolling past: Stephen King Insists the Coronavirus Is Not Like The Stand. 

First, let’s all take a moment to give thanks that Coronavirus is not the nonfiction counterpart of Captain Trips. Now, let’s pretend for a minute that it is. In that case, the people who are well-read will rule whatever is left of the world.

Follow me down this rabbit hole for a moment. Disease strikes. Mankind fights for its survival. With a decrease in available workers, plumbing, electricity, all modern technological advances (luxuries and ‘necessities’) eventually fail, including the internet. Doctors  will try desperately to heal the ailing with inadequate treatments. Farmers will have to shovel the land by hand. Politicians, repudiated for their weak understanding of science and poor preparation for global catastrophe, will be banished. Athletes will be relegated to the physical labor of repairing crumbling buildings and sidewalks (since, apparently, looters will destroy the towns and/or some natural disaster strikes everywhere civilization still exists), for their unmatched strength and nimble limbs will have been honed for just such a task. Who will be left to take control — to organize and plan, to seek answers to new, yet ancient, problems, to lead the populous into an era of peace and compassion, humility and togetherness? 

Nerds, it is us. Unite (even though we are mainly introverts who would come out this weekend but unfortunately we’ve already made plans…)! We’ve prepared for this exact scenario. We’ve read the books — like, all of them — every single one. We’ve studied the rhetorical devices, appreciated the wordplay, memorized the figurative language. We’ve stayed in the bathroom during breaks in hopes that our coworkers won’t try to talk to us. Now is the time we claim our power and use the knowledge of ages and the wisdom of the greats stored in our giant brains to recreate the remaining people into a happier, more loving, and gentler society, already properly envisioned in our overactive imaginations. 

As I consider the question of what to read to adequately prepare for the catastrophe the Doomsday Preppers believe is rapidly approaching, I think about the books I’ve read over my lifetime. If I was truly worried about an apocalypse, I think my final reading list would look a little something like this:

1.The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson

This is a series of ten adult fantasy books, and from the first time I read the books in college to the last series read-through when the final book was released, it has remained one of my all-time favorite stories. The premise is a very ill man finds himself, after an accident, waking up in an unfamiliar environment, which he suspects he is imagining. As it turns out, saving the Land becomes, for our protagonist, intrinsically linked to saving himself — what he believes is good, and worth fighting for, and worth making sacrifices to obtain — whether the Land is real or not. I can’t express how much joy I have derived from these books, nor relate to you how many tears I have shed over this series.

“There’s only one way to hurt a man who’s lost everything. Give him back something broken.”

2.The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien 

In a similar vein to the Thomas Covenant series, I have read and reread these books numerous times. The overarching theme is that even in the darkest, saddest, worst, most fearful times, there is still hope and love and friendship and happiness to be found. We observe the courage and perseverance of our main characters even in what appears to be certain defeat (and, for some of them, unfortunately is). These stories can show us what dedication and loyalty truly are. They demonstrate how to overcome overwhelming odds, crushing temptation, and painful despair. They inspire me to be more optimistic and to recognize that, while I may not “win them all” I may “lose” with pride, and cling to my belief that the good in the world will defeat the bad.

“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”

3.Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

This lighthearted classic tale is purported to be an allegory, both of drug use and of politics of the time. As a card-carrying conspiracy theorist, I can attest that the allegations are one-hundred percent accurate, but also very probably not real. Even if it is true that the Queen of Hearts represents the Queen of England during Victorian times, that knowledge wouldn’t lessen my appreciation for the work as a silly, amusing story entertaining for both children and adults. It is cautionary in nature: Alice finds herself recklessly tumbling into a world in which she gets pulled deeper and deeper due to her insatiable curiosity and sincere appreciation for free food. The strangers she meets are crazy, unpredictable, treacherous, but, also, occasionally helpful and well-meaning. Basically, it’s life in a college dorm.

“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”

4.The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This is a memoir that spent over 440 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list, and with good reason. Jeannette describes her early life as one with many obstacles she worked to overcome: being homeless, living in poverty, and being neglected and abused. Her writing style is elegant and compelling. Her story is heartbreaking and uplifting. She begins by describing how she set herself on fire. Her tragic early life has propelled her into a successful, strong, college-educated career woman. I haven’t often read a book as moving and inspiring, yet relatable, which simultaneously made me feel guilty about the life I’ve enjoyed. It’s a rare gem.

“Pick out your favorite star,” Dad said.
“I like that one!” I said.
Dad grinned. “That’s Venus,” he said. He explained to me that planets glowed because reflected light was constant and stars twinkled because their light pulsed.
“I like it anyway,” I said.
“What the hell,” Dad said. “It’s Christmas. You can have a planet if you want.”
And he gave me Venus.

5.The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

A unicorn is led to believe she is the last in existence, and thus goes to search out what has happened to all the others. It is a tale of having courage, and forging unlikely friendships, and finding or recognizing purpose and meaning in life, and accepting our innate nature, and defying the greed of our leaders for the betterment of the public. It is also about a unicorn, so….

“What use is wizardry if it cannot save a unicorn?” He gripped the magician’s shoulder hard, to keep from falling.
Schmendrick did not turn his head. With a touch of sad mockery in his voice, he said, “That’s what heroes are for.”

6. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In the unlikely event of a civilization-altering calamity, it might be worth reading a story set in the midst of the “Roaring 20’s,” when people cared for little else but living in the moment and partying wildly on bootlegged hooch, recklessly squandering wealth in the expectation that their prosperity would continue unchecked indefinitely, in the time just before the stock market crash and Great Depression led many of these same players to suicide. Each time I read this book, I discover more to love. The tale of Gatsby and Daisy is timeless, and tragic, and unforgettable.

“I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him.”

7.The Five People You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

I have lost count of the number of times I have read this novel but the story has remained near the top of my favorite books list (which doesn’t actually exist, but if it did I would never forgive myself if I laminated it because I’m too indecisive to make that type of commitment). I have taught it to my students seven years in a row and every time it was genuinely enjoyed by a majority of the class, a feat so rare it only happens as often as a double rainbow after a Blood Rain in Kottayam. Albom’s powerful imagery, simple prose, poignant lessons, and memorable characters combine to create a novel which was on the New York Times Best Seller list for almost two years. As a bonus, this book is short and a fast read — perfect for a snowy afternoon snuggled on the couch with some hot chocolate.

“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”

8. The Stand by Stephen King.

Because, well, it can’t hurt to prepare.

 

“Whatever lay ahead, he was glad to be alive.”

 

Peace and love.

This Thanksgiving Season

Standard

It is the time of year when people begin to express their gratitude for the good things in their lives. Of course, I could go on and on about being thankful for owning a home, my husband and I each having stable jobs, being in relatively good health, and all the expected sentiments: pets, good weather, and full bellies. In light of all that has happened in my family, good and bad, this year, I am going to take a moment and share from my heart.

Last fall, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been receiving chemo for just over a year, had a double-mastectomy in the spring, and went through six weeks of radiation this summer. It is a hard process to watch, but with determination and a caring medical team, my mom was recently told by her doctor she is officially a “survivor.” This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my mom, as never before.

In May, my dad suffered a massive stroke in two parts of his brain. He has come through with much less damage and fewer long-term effects than anyone thought possible. Then, in the summer, he had heart surgery. His doctors are surprised and proud of his resilience. He has healed quickly and has not lost his sense of humor. I am so thankful I am able to call my dad and argue over politics and hear his laugh.

Three weeks ago, my parents were sleeping when their house caught fire. They barely escaped and spent four days in the hospital recuperating from smoke damage. In a year where our family has had its share of disappointments and crises, this tops the list of being a mental and emotional drain. However, I believe, truly, that God sent angels to protect my parents’ lives while all around them was destruction.

In the midst of all of this, my husband and I were receiving fertility treatments that did not work. How can we find a blessing in this for which to be thankful? We have been inundated by friendship and support that was both unexpected and greatly appreciated. Our community, our friends, even strangers have been so thoughtful, uplifting, generous, and positive that it has helped me face the task of filling out adoption paperwork (so much paperwork!) and readying for our home visit with optimism. It is so much easier to do a difficult task when you know that people want you to succeed; we have received cards, phone calls, letters, and social media messages that I will forever store in my heart. I did not know, when I wrote about our fertility struggles, how many people this problem affects. Nor did I know how supportive people would be by the announcement that we were beginning to look into adoption. People have been so kind, understanding, and excited for us that it reinforces — in the midst of all the negativity in the world today and, particularly, in our country this week — the idea that most people are genuinely good, caring, and loving. Please know that we genuinely appreciate all the support we have received, and cannot express our thankfulness adequately enough.

Peace and love.14480660_10209711720605577_7351541725707216488_o (1).jpg

Why I Am Transitioning to Veganism

Standard
I recently decided to become vegan. There were lots of reasons, a few of which I would like to elaborate upon. I don’t wish to offend anyone. I only want to explain my viewpoint.
11665547_10206220160998769_6431767910251688289_n.jpg 11892107_10206533447910746_2161764337853446737_n.jpg
I went vegan because in my heart I could not reconcile slaughtering and eating a turkey with adoring and obsessively doting on my cats. How are they different from each other, except how we as a society view these animals (one being food, the other being family)? Many cultures, whether due to tradition or religion or necessity, eat different types of animals than people eating a standard American diet. Some chow down on cats or dogs or grubs or monkeys; others would never dream of eating a cow or a pig as they consider them sacred or unclean.
It hurt my conscience to know that I ate tuna fish from a can yet owned betas and guppies and other types of fish in tanks over the years. I couldn’t justify eating crab after owning and caring for hermit crabs. I’m a very principled person, and I couldn’t stand my own hypocrisy any longer. Just because I love my pets, it doesn’t mean they are in any way more valuable in the world than the cats people eat overseas. All animals are sentient beings who desire to live — they only want what I do, what my cats do, what all of us do: a long, full life, filled with days of no pain and no fear, and a peaceful end.
468585_10200855698610562_1903833155_o.jpg
I “mother” my cats, making sure they aren’t scared or hurt; why should I pay someone else to kill any other animal, who wasn’t “lucky” enough to be born a human or a purebred, papered, expensive Saint Bernard puppy? Until I became vegan a month and a half ago, I was in an ethical dilemma centering on whether or not I truly loved animals. As silly as it sounds, I cried the day I hit a pheasant while driving to work last year, yet fried chicken was one of my favorite foods for a long time. They were both birds, so I should, theoretically, feel fine about killing both or neither, right? But it wasn’t like that. I felt awful about killing one, and intentionally bought and ate the other. In my head, it made perfect sense, until one day it just didn’t.
980418_10200855728051298_1709939910_o.jpg
Plants have every vitamin and mineral necessary for a healthy life, without the health risks associated with eating meat (including obesity, Mad Cow disease, and high cholesterol, with its higher rate of heart attacks and strokes). The exception, of course, is Vitamin B-12, but most people don’t get enough of that whether they eat meat or not. Eating a plant-based vegan diet has been scientifically and anecdotally proven to have positive benefits, mentally and physically, for those who follow it.
The decision, for me, amounted to this: eat meat/dairy/eggs, with my family history of stroke, cancer, and other scary stuff, just because it tastes good, or save countless innocent lives and reduce my own health risks in the future by eating a full, well-rounded diet of plants. The choice was easy. I’m no longer emotionally conflicted. As an added bonus, I sleep better knowing I am “the change I wish to see in the world.”
965323_10200855627008772_1568916546_o.jpg
Peace and love.

Why Parents Should Attend Conferences

Standard

The belief exists among many parents that conferences with their child’s teacher are unimportant. For one reason or another, parents can justify to themselves why skipping their scheduled time doesn’t make a difference in the long run: my child has a good grade; the teacher would call if there was a problem; I’m too busy to take the time off work. All of these reasons seem legitimate, and, despite their validity, I’d like to present a counterargument expressing why Parent-Teacher Conference Night should be highlighted on every parent’s calendar.

First, there are many reasons teachers need to speak with you, beyond communicating your child’s letter grade. We often need to express to you what your child’s strengths are, what areas they can improve, and how they can adjust to better succeed in school. We may need to address minor behavioral concerns that don’t warrant a phone call home. We might want to ask about your evening schedule or suggest ways you can help your child prepare at home. We also would like to get to know you, to better relate to you or feel more comfortable discussing problems as they come up. We would like to express, face to face, our joy at your child’s successes and our sadness in their struggles. In short, we want to know you, and we want you to know us.

Second, parents have a different perspective and deeper knowledge level of who their child, our student, is. That perception is often vital in helping us understand how best to teach each student individually. The more we know about your son or daughter, the more we can tailor our lessons to help him or her. You can provide insight into his or her life that we would otherwise be unable to see. You can explain to us about your child’s health, talk to us about signs or symptoms of conditions you are concerned about, and describe for us any social problems they might be having outside of school. Mental, physical, and emotional health has a huge impact on a student’s performance, and if you make us aware of those types of issues, we are able to better accommodate a child’s needs.

Third, it demonstrates to your child the importance of an open relationship with others in their lives who care for them. When we can converse at conferences, you can share with them how their teacher views their abilities and that lets them know they are individuals, unique and appreciated just for who they are. It helps to build a better support system between some of the most important people in your child’s life: you and their teachers.

Make talking with your child’s teacher a priority. We will be flexible about timing. We just want your input. Educating a student is a team effort, and you are half the team.

Peace and love.

12514074_10207720742392366_2457589951942948995_o (1).jpg

World’s Worst Jobs: Part 2

Standard

I am fairly certain that everyone will wake up at least once in the course of their lives thinking, “Man, I really don’t want to go to work today.” If you have not experienced the dread that follows a realization that you must, indeed, change out of your pajamas, take some DayQuil, trudge through the blizzard, and pretend to feel healthy for eight hours, you have likely not had a full-time job on which all of your bills depend. (Side note: if that feeling is a daily occurrence or makes you cry regularly, you probably should consider a life change and start updating your resume. You need to rectify your situation before an actual depression sinks its claws in.)

Carrying on, I will now delve into some more of what I believe would be the worst career choices possible. The options below would cause me great personal angst. If you have not read part 1 of this series, please check it out!

Stunt Double: I realize there are people in the world, known as “adrenaline junkies,” who enjoy jumping off really tall things and sitting in really fast things. I don’t. In fact, I don’t even like the view from a plane as it comes in for a typical landing. So, to spend a lifetime doing the dangerous things a rich celebrity is unable — or unwilling — to do for themselves sounds like a waking nightmare to me. I never want to be on fire, even in a flame-retardant suit while a director yells, “Action!” I will never purposely crash a car, despite the profits a blockbuster might make at my expense. I have a bad back; jumping from a moving train is no longer on my bucket list.

Funeral Director: This business is unappealing to me for many reasons. First and foremost, I cry at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I cry at sad commercials. Once, I was crying for no reason, then started laughing about how I was crying at nothing, then started crying because I was embarrassed. I cannot possibly imagine how people who work at funeral homes can bear to wake up and put on their suits each day. At best, their lives consist of dealing in death, with their entire focus always being consumed with the end of life. “Honey, let’s plan our future together,” exclaims the wife exuberantly. “Why bother?” her funeral home-owning husband replies dejectedly. At worst, they get paid extravagant amounts by grieving families to pretend to care about their lost loved ones.

There will be more to come later in this series, so please keep an eye out! Peace and love.12514074_10207720742392366_2457589951942948995_o.jpg

Why I Feel Everyone Should Read

Standard

I truly and wholeheartedly believe the world would be a better place if everyone considered reading as essential as other daily tasks. I realize that not everyone likes to read; some, in fact, claim to hate it and refuse to voluntarily skim through even a few books a year after they have completed high school.

The result has been, over the last few decades, a disintegration of our civilization on multiple — alarming — levels. As a society, our refusal to read has had detrimental effects: many people’s comprehension, vocabulary, communication, and logical thinking has suffered; they lack basic spelling, usage, and grammar skills; and they have trouble interacting appropriately with others because they are unable to empathize or connect emotionally. Additionally, while people turn away from books and embrace television and Netflix, for example, they are abdicating any responsibility for deep critical thinking or personal growth, as is it common knowledge that binge-watching American Dad cannot replicate the benefits of a focused long-term plot or the in-depth character study offered in books. Furthermore, by wasting time so contentedly on social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram, people are allowing others to dictate their ethics, self-worth, and interests. “Likes” are very important these days, and young people, in particular, will do or say just about anything to earn approval from strangers online.

Being an optimist, I refuse to believe this change to our culture is permanent. I know that reading offers too many benefits to allow it to “go gentle into that good night.” I will continue to promote reading and encourage my students to engage in it regularly. Below are a few reasons why.

Reading serves many purposes. Historically, story-telling was a way to preserve a culture’s beliefs and to pass on its values to younger generations. (In my opinion, it can definitely do the same today.) Problematically, modern-day reading is mainly seen as simply a leisure activity, done with the intention of providing entertainment, and therefore viewed as a “huge waste of time.” A lot of people would just rather “watch the movie.”

Many times, though, people do not realize exactly how much they can take away from reading, in general. We can study a character’s true motivations and analyze the factors that drive their behaviors. We can pick up on clues that a character may be “unreliable” (and, therefore, untrustworthy) through subtle hints and indirect characterization. We can assess the results of a character’s decisions and actions, examining how it impacts his or her life over a long span of time. We can gain insight by familiarizing ourselves with characters from all walks of life, with varying interests, abilities, and personality traits. This can train us for daily interactions with those around us and help us to better know ourselves.

For example, reading a novel which includes characters who are greedy or selfish can subtly demonstrate the danger of such behaviors in our own lives. Similarly, lovable characters can cause readers to forget their own loneliness for a short time, or lead readers to recognize desirable traits that they can adopt for themselves. Sympathetic characters can ease a reader’s feelings of self-pity by opening his or her eyes to other forms of pain and suffering in the world. Heroes fighting against villains — whether successful in their endeavors or not — can teach readers the importance of standing up for what they believe is right.

There are many genres from which to choose, so with enough searching just about everyone can find a novel that suits their interests. Some prefer true-crime documentaries while others enjoy romance novels. Mystery novels are fun because they enable people to piece together information and attempt to make accurate predictions — they keep people engaged. Science-fiction, fantasy, and mythology can expand people’s imaginations while, often, encouraging personal moral decision-making or ethical soul-searching. Nonfiction selections in the self-improvement, history, or autobiography categories are meant to provide useful information and can help people understand themselves and the  world around them more clearly. A few relate best to poetry, as they find that it succinctly expresses their own feelings in unique or unexpected ways, which can be quite comforting. Someone might prefer to read classics, from which they can deduce that, while the world itself has changed greatly over time, human nature and emotions have not.

Reading, most importantly, opens our minds. I have smiled when my favorite characters succeed. I have cried when innocent or helpless characters are killed. I have raged over the injustices characters suffer at the hands of their society. I have been uplifted when characters are able to turn their lives around and make a positive change. I have gained wisdom, courage, and strength from reading about the struggles in other people’s lives. I have educated myself on concepts, ideas, and philosophies about which I had no other way of learning. Reading lets me see the world from many perspectives and experience things I never would otherwise. It allows me to be part of other cultures and travel through time. It helps me to not only visit other worlds, but to live in this one more fully.

Peace and love.11215807_10205957227265590_2406978983197072906_n.jpg

World’s Worst Jobs: Part 1

Standard

I am a teacher. Most days, I can’t imagine doing anything else. However, human nature being what it is, my curiosity occasionally gets the better of me. I begin to ask myself, “If I had to choose a different career, what would it be?” The answer almost always comes in the form of a statement beginning with a phrase such as “Well, I’m really glad I am not” or “At least I don’t have to be a”. I have realized, over time, that there are many ways I could end those thoughts, and I genuinely pity the people who earn their bread and butter doing jobs that would make me distraught. Below are a few of the jobs I consider to be the most undesirable. I’m fairly certain they all, at one point in time, were real jobs.

Indian Rat Catcher: I will admit up front that I have a phobia of rodents. So, when I saw a documentary about the existence and necessity of professional rat catchers in India on the History Channel (or Discovery or the Travel Channel or TLC or whatever), I was simultaneously disgusted and intrigued. The special focused on a family whose business was currently, had always been, and will, assumedly, forever be catching and killing rats. Their unfortunate career pays much less than a living wage and earns them a place in the “untouchable” class in the social caste system. The family earns so little money, in fact, that they are forced to survive by eating the rats they have killed. Yes. You read that correctly. They can barely afford food, so THEY EAT GIANT FIELD RATS EVERY DAY. The documentary went on to discuss potential dangers of eating rodents, most notably the possibility of dying from a disease the unsanitary rats may have had. According to further research I have done, the Mumbai pest control department hires over forty employees as rat catchers, who must each kill at least thirty rats per night or they don’t get paid. This is a job created from my worst nightmare. I just can’t even.

Plumber for Sports Stadiums: Admittedly, I would not enjoy being a plumber in any capacity, but I feel true pity for the unfortunate soul hired to snake the toilets after the Superbowl. Whatever that professional is getting paid, it is nowhere near enough to compensate for the unfathomable hideousness that fills his evening.

Executioner: “Hey, Ma — I got the job! I start killing people on Monday!” I literally cannot imagine how anyone who gets paid to end people’s lives are able to sleep at night. I hit a pheasant with my car on the way to work one morning, and I was inconsolable. I called my husband crying. I couldn’t even pull the feathers off the bumper myself — I asked my coworker to do it (he seemed understanding but also a little annoyed). So, how does someone hired to be a professional murderer handle it? My gut instinct is that anyone who applies for this job is a sociopath, though I obviously have no credible knowledge or expertise backing that statement up. So, is there some sort of training involved (perhaps a good deal of brainwashing or hypnosis)? What are the qualifications on someone’s resume that make him or her a stand-out candidate for the position? What skill set makes one employable in this career field? What questions do they ask your previous employer? And, before you assume I “don’t support the death penalty,” let me be clear that I am not taking a position for or against it. I’m only saying I’m really, really glad that I’m not the one who pulls the lever. I clearly could not handle it.

That concludes this edition of “World’s Worst Jobs.” There are many more to come. Check out Part 2. Also, if you have some suggestions of awful jobs, I’d love to hear them!

Peace and love.10357778_10207715834429670_3686997172492148899_o.jpg

Ways We Can Improve Our Society: Part Two

Standard

Check out part one for more ideas!

Thankfully, the number of potential candidates for the Presidency has dwindled slightly. Unfortunately, most of those who remain are the loudest, angriest, and most arrogant.  If I actually believed politicians would be willing to listen to the desires of the people they claim to represent, I would offer them the following suggestions for how we, as a nation, might grow and change. Instead, I am relying on the people to change what we can, provided we can stop insulting and berating each other on social media for how our political policy beliefs differ.

To begin, I believe our country (our world, in fact) would be a better place if everyone was required to give another human being a genuine compliment every single day. I’m sure there is a government bureaucrat out there somewhere who is tired of getting paid for reading magazines and pretending to file paperwork. Let him be in charge of tracking how quickly general happiness, self-esteem, and optimism skyrocket under the new Renee Fornelli Love agenda. There’s some type of computer program that can make graphs and pie charts, I assume. He could even create a survey — and we all know how important polls are these days — and build data. There would be so much more paperwork to “file” (and, by file, I mean lose/shred/stick in a box in a warehouse)! What an exciting job for that formerly bored government employee!

Next up, we can easily improve our world through the utilization of recycling centers. Last summer, my husband and I decided to make regular recycling a part of our lives. I organized a small corner of our home to store paper, cans, and plastic bottles. I have a couple pictures of my bins below. It takes, maybe, twenty minutes a month to gather up and drop off all the items that, previously, would have gone towards filling up our landfill. Instead of having companies make new things, they can refashion and reuse old things. Isn’t that “shabby chic” idea all the rage right now? Please consider making a better effort to go green. I was surprised — pleasantly — by how little effort recycling actually takes. Save our planet — it’s the only place we have to live!

11891260_10206517679196538_6165142927610661893_n.jpg    11900001_10206517678996533_8788393079203322398_n (2).jpg

Last on the agenda today is the need and desire for our society to consider pet adoption. Statistics show there are many benefits to owning a pet. They can help to lower blood pressure, ease depression symptoms, and detect an owner’s serious illness, for starters.  Cats and dogs, especially, are excellent companions for children and adults, and offer a wide array of services to offset any minor inconveniences that go along with pet ownership. Dogs provide protection and a sense of security to people with disabilities and those living alone; they also learn tricks and make for great exercise buddies. Cats are useful for killing rodents and are particularly good snugglers. For example, my cats are great foot warmers in the dead of winter, though they do often steal all the blankets and fashion a nest for themselves, leaving me to shiver uncontrollably through the night. Be that as it may, I know they love me because they show it in other ways. They meet me at the door when I get home from work. They lay beside me and purr when I’m sick. They “sing” with me and often answer when I talk to them. They “pet” my hair and give me kisses. They leave fake mice in my purse if I leave it unzipped, and I often find toys in the toe of my boots when I slip them on. They are content to lay in my lap for hours. They fill my heart with joy and happiness.

998490_10207352967798231_6216127388226558226_n.jpg   12553088_10207485138382413_3460993619104776585_n.jpg

12247803_10207091019409685_7526933010281916728_o.jpg    11935673_10206648667031152_8263616964315305217_o.jpg

 

So, to all of you petless people, I will encourage you to go to a shelter and adopt a pet. You do not need to spend hundreds of dollars to buy one from a dealer or a pet store. Often, people give pets away for free. Pets provide comfort, acceptance, and companionship to lonely people. They give entertainment and add excitement to daily chores. They offer unconditional love. People with pets are almost always happier because of them. That’s why they fill your Facebook news feed with so many pictures of them.

So, if we can change our attitudes and behaviors, we can change our world for the better. I’m willing to give it a try. Are you?

P.S. We don’t actually need the government telling us to compliment each other. Just do it on your own. It feels great for the recipient as well as the giver. Make each other happy today!

Peace and love.

1544522_10206161111082558_8642134516796728265_n.jpg

Ways We Can Improve Our Society: Part One

Standard

As election time rolls around and debates separate the wheat from the chaff and political ads slander opponents mercilessly, it becomes apparent (particularly on social media) that everyone in America knows what is best for the country and if you disagree you are a worthless pile of fool. To add to the “excitement” of another 11 months of campaigns, here is the first stage of “making America great again,” and if you disagree, you are a worthless pile of fool.

First up, budget cuts. I hear about this concept of “budgeting” and apparently it means “planning for a fiscally sound future by not buying so much makeup,” according to my husband’s line of thinking. What it actually means is balancing income and expenses — in other words, allotting an adequate amount of money to each area in order to responsibly pay bills in a timely fashion. The following are some ways I think the local, state, and federal government could increase revenue or cut needless expenditures, or improve our society as a whole.

First, when an individual is caught speeding, he or she should be required to pay a fine of no less than $50 for every excess mile per hour an officer clocked their speed. (Bonus: the main roads will be much safer, as compulsive speed demons will likely stick to back roads — I’m not convinced they can change.) That money can be earmarked for educational funding, including a newly required defensive driving course for all caught recklessly risking their own and others’ lives by cruising along at 75 in a 65 zone.

Second, why do prisons provide cable television? Many hardworking, law-abiding citizens can’t afford such a luxury. My cable bill each month is astronomical (particularly after adding an additional box) and increases semi-annually. Felons don’t need cable, they need to sit and think about what they did wrong. If they get bored with repenting, they can pick up a book and read. Our world would be a better place if everyone in it read a book a month. Rather than setting up convicts with expensive entertainment, force them to watch local channels and, when they tire of that, to educate themselves. I know, the option of schooling already exists in the joint, but I feel more people who are incarcerated would put forth the effort of seeking an education to better their lives on the outside if it was the only option available during their free time (and by free time, I mean the time they don’t spend lifting weights and fashioning shivs out of toothbrushes). Admittedly my knowledge of the inner workings of life in the clink is limited to, ironically, what I have viewed on cable networks. What would the government do with all the funds they freed up by making the pen “hard-copy only”? They would redirect that cash to fuel public education. By funneling more money into our children’s schooling, we could hope there would be fewer ex-cons in the long run — and wouldn’t that make for a brighter future overall?

Third, hire only highly skilled and professional construction companies who will work on one mile of road at a time, from dawn until dusk every single day until the job is complete. The longer that stretch of patch work takes, the more road rage I suffer. The citizens pay taxes to fund quick, sound reconstruction of the roads, not to hire a bunch of sweaty, chain-smoking sign holders. When I drive by at 10:15 in the morning, I know they cannot possibly be legitimately still eating breakfast. So why are they just sitting in their trucks, laughing at my aggravation? Why do they tear up twenty miles of the interstate at a time if they have no intention of fixing it that week? Why must I slow down to twenty-five miles an hour when workers are nowhere to be found? Why doesn’t the foreman insist they remove the “reduce speed ahead” signs before leaving for the afternoon siesta (which is the only logical explanation for why machines are sitting empty in the ditches when I drive home at 4:30 in the afternoon)? Why is my tax money paying for months of unnecessary inconvenience to travelers and a lack of oversight resulting in lazy incompetence from poorly managed road crews? I’m becoming suspicious that maybe they intentionally take so long because they get paid by the day. Government officials, do some reference checking on the companies you pay with my money, or I will vote you out.

Check out part two here.

Peace and love.

12043059_10206808798754345_8009756116739310444_n