I’m back in school. Ivy Tech, to be exact.
No, I don’t regret the time off–I was waffling before, not sure what I was going for or why. Odd as it sounds, I needed the experience of burnout and two years of distance in my career before I realized what I wanted out of college.
I want to understand and I want to be understood. Translation: I’m going for Psychology. This semester I’m only taking one class (financial reasons), Psych 101. My first class was on Tuesday, but I have found that the first day of class is basically just a meet and greet–very little learning goes on the first day. In today’s class, we started Chapter one…an introduction to an introduction to psychology, as my instructor called it.
We covered the history of psychology and the seven approaches.
Psychology, I am discovering, is a diverse field with many different approaches, philosophies and goals. It is almost diverse as the students in this class.
Since pretty much everybody has to take psych 101, my classroom is a pretty good sampling of the student body in general.
We’ve got nursing students, business students, engineering students, criminal justice students. We’ve even got humanities students. There’s also one other woman going for Psychology. And then, of course, there’s the other divide: the people going to school just to make more money and the people going to school to prepare for a vocation.
You can spot them by the questions they ask, the way they phrase things, the things they pay attention to.
I confess, it is a flaw of mine that I have very little respect for those who have made money their chief goal; I think this is from experiences in childhood and adolescence. During the times when my family skated on the poverty line, it was always the friends who struggled to feed themselves that filled our pantry; rarely did the affluent bring more than a couple cans.
I’m certainly not saying all rich people are misers and all poor people are generous…just that I have observed that those who put money and status first have difficulty appreciating the value of those who have less or barely enough.
I guess I prefer my rich folk the same as I do my poor folk: full of generosity and empathy.
I’m back in school. Ivy Tech, to be exact.
Or, perhaps more accurately, a collection of random thoughts.
So, here it is: my day off and I’m lounging around the house. Then it occurs to me that I haven’t posted here in a few days! I’m not sure I’m up to a coherent, concise post…so I’m going to capitalize on the chaos! I don’t usually do stream of consciousness, but what the hey!
I changed my “Every other day story update due to Mom” from a new story to the old one. In a good streak, I can keep up with multiple writing irons in the fire…but this isn’t a good streak. So, condensing.
It’s actually showing progress on the main story, so I’m not hollering and neither is Mom. I did miss yesterday, but this past weekend has been, shall we say, crazy. It happens every time I work a double (16 hours) one day and then have to go back in for a regular 8 shift the next day; I lose the second day to a fog of unfocused lethargy. If I’m not asleep, I’m in a daze.
People ask me all the time: “How do you even work 16 hours in a day?”
Well, it isn’t easy. The very first double I worked was 2nd shift to 3rd shift and not only was it my very first time staying awake all night, it was also my very first 3rd shift. And I was the only aide. 30+ residents, only a busy nurse to help me. Yikes!
That was my introduction to energy drinks.
The next time I had to work a double with that nurse, she tried coffee instead. The hope was that coffee would keep me awake and upright but not shaky and loopy. I’m honestly not sure why the coffee didn’t affect me like the 5-Hour Energy; it was about equal parts sugar and coffee.
But anyways, to get through a double, you just grit your teeth and do it. I tend to power through the last 8 hours at break-neck pace; I’m always afraid if I stop moving I won’t be able to start up again. It’s really having to work the next day that I dread. Having only about 5 hours of sleep, my body still aches, and my mind is still processing the day before. It’s…not fun. Doable, endurable, often necessary, but not fun.
Days like today, the first day off from a string of days with a double thrown somewhere in the mix, tend to be jumbled and unfocused. I’m sure it reflects in my writing. Sometimes the best thing to do is to get out of the house, go somewhere and do something to break the cycle of work-sleep-work-sleep.
So, when I get off here, I think I’m going to do a few chores around the house and then go out for a bit.
Even if I only have a meager amount of money to spend. I have to get cat food anyways, if I wish to avoid being eaten alive by my not-so-sweet-when-she’s-hungry kitty.
Work on my main story (the Laryn and Alyn story) has been creeping by at a frustratingly slow pace. Part of that is probably my fault, but a large part isn’t. See, I’ve been working 50 hour weeks for something like 5 weeks. Maybe 6, I’m not sure.
Amazingly, I’m exhausted but not burnt out like the summer of ’12 when a similar thing happened. Of course, I’m not recovering from a tornado now, I’ve been working first and second shifts and sleeping at night instead of working second and third shifts and trying to sleep between 7 am and noon. Also unlike the summer of ’12 is the fact that I’ve chosen to work most of these extra shifts, instead of having to work them because I was mandated. It’s a fine line distinction, but it’s a distinction nonetheless.
Nevertheless, it’s still sapped away my writing energy and I’ve felt off-kilter because of it. It’s good to be back at the keyboard again.
Laryn’s story is getting closer to being completed: I plan to have the first draft completely done by my 25th birthday…which gives me just slightly less than a year to get my butt in gear and GET IT DONE. I’m still wrestling with what to do with it once it’s done; whether to try my luck at traditional publishing or whether to self-publish. There’s many great arguments for both paths. Thing is, I’m not really expecting to have a New York Times best seller on my hands…and I’m not being modest, either. It’s quite hard to place genre-wise: it’s Sci-Fi for sure, but it’s not quite Star Trek level sci-Fi and it’s not as space opera either. It’s not quite literary fiction, not quite YA (Laryn is in her mid-20s).
So I’m conflicted and probably will be until I send it off, one way or another. I’d lean more towards self-publishing, except for this nagging voice that’s whispering: “most self-published books aren’t as well known as traditionally published books.” I can’t decide if this voice is pride, fear, caution or some kind of conglomeration of all of the above.
With self publishing, I’d have to do my own marketing…not something I do naturally or very well. And I want this story out there.
With traditional publishing, I’m running the risk that a company would buy the rights and then sit on it…something I rather dread. I want this story out there.
Thankfully, I’ve got a bit of time before I have to make a decision. A rapidly dwindling bit of time…
Meanwhile, I’m also doing a writing exercise for the next two weeks: roughly 500 words due every other day on a novella idea. Due to my mother, no less. I’m finding that having to send my work to someone else…someone who is waiting and expecting it, is quite shall we say motivating.
Just something to get me back into the flow, something that’s not my main story and so has Great Importance on the quality of the words. It’s helping get me back in the habit.
Why do I write?
The short answer is: I write to make sense of myself.
The truth is, I honestly have very little clue how people perceive me; it’s all a shifting, relative mass.
I’m soft-spoken…until I’m a train barreling down on your argument. I’m laid-back…until I’m inflexible. I’m an ice-queen until I’m shooting flames out my eyes. If it’s confusing for me to keep track of myself, I can’t really blame others for misunderstanding me.
This is something that an accurate MBTI personality type has really, well for lack of a better word, soothed me. I’m not a freak, a failure, a freakin’ weirdo. I’m actually completely normal for my rare personality type (4% of the population).
But back to the question of why I write. I’m constantly thinking and if I’m not thinking, I’m feeling. Sometimes I do both at the same time. In other words, I see a lot and I’ve got a lot to say.
But I’m reserved. If I don’t know the “protocol” for a situation, I tend towards shyness. When not in the circle of close family and friends, I become a listener more than a speaker. I’m an introvert: social interactions don’t recharge me, but instead slowly drain my batteries. I love people, but I can only take so much before I need some where quiet to process. When I find myself at the center of attention, I become self-conscious. When speaking, I often stumble over my words. Sometimes I’m good for a off-the-cuff spiel, but most of the time, ideas have to percolate. Like an actor who’s amazing on-screen but stiff in interviews, I feel empowered through my art. Through my words on a screen, I achieve an eloquence beyond my faltering soft/harsh voice. It’s not that I’m escaping through my writing, becoming someone else through it…no, never that. I am very happy with the person I’ve become. What comes out my fingers isn’t wish-fulfillment, it’s interpretation. It’s either me interpreting the world to myself, or myself to the world. Occasionally, it’s both.
People can know me for years and still feel like they don’t really know me…but read something I’ve written and you’ve met the real Hannah Hedges. In my writing, I hold very little to nothing back; I CAN’T. There’s an invisible trust between me and my keyboard: no lies allowed here. Everything must ring true, whether I’m reviewing a movie or describing my day or writing a scene in a story.
Why do I write? Because I have to. Because I am a dichotomy, the union of opposites and I have this pathological need to understand myself. Because the shy, small girl sees things and doesn’t have the “umph” or the abandon to give soliloquies in McDonalds. Because the reckless crusader can’t brawl out all the idiots in person. Because stories haunt me like my own personal entourage of ghosts. Or gaggle of invisible friends.
Because if the words don’t flow from my fingers to the keyboard, they take to hammering at the inside of my skull and that freaking hurts.
On Facebook, I found this link.
I got so upset that I just had to write. And here’s what I wrote: an email to Rush Limbaugh.
I am very upset. No…I am pissed off and angry.
I read a transcript of your May 27th thing on The Hunger Games. Now, let me be crystal clear: I am 23 years old and I love The Hunger Games series. The last chapter in Mockingjay is one of my very favorite passages in literature; it has gotten me through a really rough period in my life where I was struggling with depression.
So, The Hunger Games is very near and dear to me.
For the love of God, do your research. Read the book, watch the movie. At least try to be objective.
Or don’t. Whatever. The Hunger Games is fiction…beautiful, powerful, moving and brilliant fiction…but fiction nonetheless. I can shrug and move on. Your opinions on a favorite book do not affect my life in the slightest. Your misinformed comments on Aspergers do.
You see, my brother has Aspergers.
He’s also one of the smartest, strongest and compassionate people I know. He’s come far in his life and he’s had to do it against a world of ignorance and arrogance. Rather like what I found on your show.
People with Aspergers are real. They are human, they have feelings and THEY deserve more than a “whatever it is” from you.
So here are some basic facts you could have picked up from a five minute Google quiz…because God forbid you have to exert yourself.
Aspergers is a pervasive developmental disorder that is, by the way classified on the Autism Spectrum. Not similar: on the same spectrum. It is NOT a disease. It is NOT terrible. And just in case you didn’t get it: Aspergers is NOT a disease. You can’t catch it or cure it. There’s nothing to cure: it’s a difference in brain-wiring.
Saying “They can’t function…It doesn’t take much to have them just go off, and so you have to kid glove everybody. It’s terrible…” is terribly offensive. It’s offensive because it is inaccurate and gives a a false picture of Autism to the world.
While it is true that people with Aspergers are prone to meltdowns (the technical term for what you called “just going off”), these are always a reaction to overstimulation.
And people with Aspergers, with autism…they see the world in relentless high-definition. They see all the details, all the time; they can’t “turn it off” like neurotypical (you’d probably say normal) people can.
Can you really judge them for their meltdowns?
Kid gloves, you say? How about trying a little compassion, Rush? Try putting yourself in their shoes…do a little research. You don’t even have to get off your ass to do it! Just type “Aspergers, autism” into your Google search bar. Then here’s the hard part: read the information. Try to understand it.
Your show reaches millions…that’s an audience I’ll never have. You could do so much good for autism…but if you aren’t willing to do that, do me a favor and please God don’t broadcast misinformation and hasty conclusions on a national platform.
You have no idea how much damage that can do to the lives of people affected by autism.
A friend recently snapped a picture of me while I was writing. I got a good giggle out of it: I’d never seen myself writing before!
To be honest, this isn’t something I usually think about. I do know that I’m very expressive when I write…flinging arms about, thumping the keyboard, tipping back in the chair to think, and, occasionally, groaning or muttering when something isn’t coming out right.
But I don’t usually think about what all this looks like from an outside perspective. When I’m in the zone, everything but the screen and the keyboard kinda goes fuzzy. Sometimes I’ll stare intently at the ceiling or a spot in the distance…but I couldn’t tell you what said spot actually looked like. I’m not looking at it, more like that’s the direction my physical eyes are pointed while my mind’s eye is far away. Now, when a human being occupies that spot…let’s just say awkwardness ensues. I had one guy convinced I was checking him out; he was quickly disabused of this notion when he came up to talk to me and I was all like, “Sorry, you’re who? Guy in the corner…there was a guy in the corner? There was a corner?” Apparently, I had this really confused look on my face during the conversation and my eyes kept darting back to my writing. Poor guy. He was kind of handsome…but unfortunately, he wasn’t fictional. And I was rather focused at the time!
I try to keep these external signs of internal processes subdued when I’m writing in public; I’m not always successful. I can’t always help it: writing is like my mind slipping into a whole other world, but my body stays behind. Same with reading. The zone is an all-engrossing place, and it usually requires all my attention and focus–and when I emerge from it, it’s usually to aching arms and a sore ass.
Note: this was written on yesterday on a break between shifts, but I didn’t post it because I didn’t get a chance to review it and tighten it up. So it’s being posted today, on my off day. Just read yesterday as the post date.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Well, it’s one of those days.
Being a little short on cash, I’ve been picking up extra hours. Now, this is one of the nicest things about working in a nursing home: there are almost always extra hours to pick up!
While I can do them, I’m not fond of working 16 hours; they’re pretty exhausting and the day after, I’m pretty much a zombie. Unless I’m working and then I rather resemble Frankenstein. But, I need the money…so lately I’ve been picking up the back half of second shift as often as I can, usually once a week or so. While I’m still getting off around 11 pm, I at least get 4 hours off between shifts. On the one hand, four hours isn’t much…on the other, it’s four hours. Enough time to catch a movie, or visit Bass Pro, or wander around the mall. Or write a blog post…hello!
It’s amazing how much things can change, depending solely on your attitude…the old “glass half empty or half full” question. I know people think of me as the eternal optimist, but don’t let the outside fool you. Inside, there’s also the girl who’s waiting for the other shoe to drop, waiting for the next thing to go wrong, the next person to judge her. Who can get caught up circling the fan as the sh…well, you get the picture. Having to work for everything I have is frustrating at times…sometimes extremely so. I’m not rich, I don’t come from a wealthy family. Sometimes to make ends meet, I have to siphon more of my time into my job; time I would have otherwise used to write or just be. I’m hardly alone in this, I know. Hell, I’m one of the lucky ones: I am able to make ends meet. I even get to put a little back. Not everyone can. Not everyone has a steady job with a steady income.
There are times I wish I could just write and ditch the full time jig. Work part-time or PRN. But that’s not life; not my life, anyway. Being a CNA isn’t just hard on your body; it is physically, mentally and emotionally exhausting. And because I write from a place of emotion, some days I get home, pull out my iPad and keyboard…only to discover the well is empty. That place of emotion has been drained by the events at the nursing home and I just can’t write. I need to feel, think, reflect, recharge. I need to wait; the words will come when they are ready. If I try to hunt them, they’ll just run and hide. I have to wait for them to come to me…because I’ve been told it’s painfully obvious when I’ve forced the words.
Sometimes it’s frustrating. Sometimes I think: “Maybe if I had a less stressful and less emotionally-involved job, maybe I could have more energy for writing.”
But today the glass is half full. I have a good, steady job and I’m lucky. I’m extra lucky because I can pick up when I need to…there are people who couldn’t, or who have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. But I get to work one job, at a place I like, and get the extra hours if I need them. I can put in two days’ worth of hours for a single day’s worth of gas. More time might equal more words, but my time spent with the elderly and infirm is time well spent. It gets me out of my own head, reminds me that a writer is only a conduit. The words may come from within, but the stories come from beyond us. My job might be stressful and emotionally draining, but I’m constantly surrounded by stories; I’m smack up against the bits of life that American society in general has stuffed in the corner. Well, I work in that corner–and my experience in it has definitely improved my writing style. “Write what you know”, they say and being a CNA, I know more than I did before.
My parents didn’t raise a hothouse flower. Working for a living and being an aspiring author is tough to balance, but it’s an adventure in balance. More time might equal more words…but for better or worse, I’m not a writer or a CNA. I’m both. And, not either/or.
And both are important.
Two things set the wheels turning for this post. One is this talk which a friend shared with me: The Danger of the Single Story.
The other is what I read online about Djimon Hounsou’s conversation with his son. (About half-way down.)
I honestly used to think that racism wasn’t an issue when I was younger. I had no conception of just how alive it still is today.
How could I? Mom and Dad both completely forgot to teach me to consciously colorblind; they just assumed that I already knew that the color of one’s skin was not a factor in one’s worth as a human. God bless Michael and his literal mind: the first time he heard someone being referred to as “black”, he piped in with a “No, he’s not.” When asked by the amused black man what color Michael thought he was, Michael replied “A nice chocolatey brown.” Michael didn’t think that he himself was white, no, he was “a much lighter shade of brown.”
Michael wasn’t being consciously cute. He was just being, well, Michael.
I didn’t realize that people were still being treated as lesser beings based solely on the color of their skin or where they were from. How could I? I spent my most formative years in Turkey, a country where being Caucasian was being the ethnic minority. And as the ethnic minority, I was treated like royalty. At four years old, I didn’t grasp how much of that respect was being given to me because I was an American in an American military base…and how much of it was because of local beliefs and superstition. When the Turks referred to my appearance at all, my blue eyes took center stage, there wasn’t usually any attention left to pay attention to my fair skin.
(Bit of explanation here, to Turks, blue eyes are considered the blessing of Allah. As the wearer of the blue eyes, most Turks would go out of their way for me and almost out of their minds to get me to stop crying. To the Turkish rug-maker and “mover bears”: I’m really sorry. In particular to the youngest mover bear, I’ve always remembered you fondly as the man who took time out of his busy day to entertain an unhappy little girl. I realize now that you were probably told by the rest of your crew: “do whatever it takes to get blue-eyes to stop raining misfortune down on us with her tears while we finish packing up her toys,” but still.)
As a young child, I had very little conception of the political and superstitious elements at play; all I knew was that the Turks had treated me, the ethnic minority, extremely well and that must be how all minority groups were to be treated. Protocol established and it only took living in a third world country to do it.
Going from Turkey back to the States was the most massive culture shock of my life. In some ways, it’s a shock that I have never gotten over. Our first stop was Georgia, the Deep South. Michael’s surprise was great when a neighbor boy (who was black) told him: “You know nothin’, you’re just a little white boy!”
Deeply hurt, Michael replied, “That’s not fair; you’re only looking on the outside!”
Further conversation was interrupted by the Wrath of God storming around the house in the form of the boy’s mother, yelling out “Little man, you of all people know what racial prejudice feels like! You and me gonna go over yonder and tan yore hide!”
In Georgia, I had no conception of what she meant by “racial prejudice”. How could I? I was still trying to get over the shock of being in America, surrounded by Americans. And what a strange bunch of people they were, whatever the color of their skin!
Moving from Georgia to Southern Indiana just put another jolt in that culture shock. Michael and I immediately agreed that this area was “boring” because everybody looked alike. Most of the people we met were Caucasian with light brown hair. Our relief was great when we started seeing people of different skin tones. I believe Michael put it best when at 12 years old, he put his hands behind his head and sighed “Ah, diversity!” All with the biggest smile on his face.
Because of all this, I never really paid attention to the color of people’s skin on my TV, or in the books I read. Physical appearances were of secondary importance to good characterizations and interesting plots. I never really thought I had to pay attention. I watched Star Trek, where Uhura, Worf, Tuvok, B’Elanna Torres, Guinan, Julian Bashir, Geordi La Forge, Harry Kim, Chakotay, Hoshi Sato, Hikaru Sulu, Benjamin Sisko, and so many others inhabited my screen…no less complex or innately heroic than anyone else there. I watched Star Wars, where the bad guys mostly all looked the same and the good guys mostly all didn’t look the same. Morgan Freeman was clearly more badass and interesting then Kevin Costner in Prince of Thieves. (And much smarter too!) Aravis tied with Peter as my all-time favorite character in the Chronicles of Narnia. I read Egyptian mythology; I read Arabian Nights. I read the Bible and I knew that the people spoken of would more closely resemble the Turks of my childhood then me.
I thought racism was a thing of the past. I remember one day, I was staring at the fireplace that used to reside in my living room and thinking “How would my life be different if my family was black?” I tilted my head and mentally changed the color of my skin. I eventually shook my head. At 11, I still couldn’t imagine anybody believing differently than my parents and besides, in my head, people in general were still all generous Turks and gracious Southerners. I hadn’t yet really come into contact with cruelty of the white, middle class variety.
~ ~ ~ ~
When I saw “cruelty of the white, middle class variety”, I do not, in any way, mean to say that white, middle class people are the scum of the Earth. That’d be a bit ridiculous for one: I’m white, middle class. And that would also be like saying all black people are criminals, or that all Germans are Nazis, or that all Americans are stupid, or that all Cretans are liars. Or that all Turks are Muslims. Not true.
I also don’t mean to imply that Turkey or Georgia are paradise and Southern Indiana is a bad place. If I’d stayed in either of those places, I would have eventually come to see the problems that plague them.
I love Southern Indiana. I love the people; slow but never stupid, laid-back but not lazy. I love the flavor of this place. But it was here that I first came into extended contact with what I call “casual racism”. It was here that I grew up and lost the innocence of childhood where I assumed that racism was a thing of the past. Sadly, it was in conservative Christian circles that I encountered it the most.
It started out small, as most things do. Grumbles about “Mexican” immigrants…despite their true nationality. Arrests and mug shots on the news, primarily young black men…and then hardly a mention when DNA and other evidence proved them innocent of the crime. Girls flirting with a white male stranger and then clutching their purses tighter when passing a black man. Jokes that said “Well, he’s just in that movie to check the ‘diversity’ box.” Condescension creeping into people’s tones when they call someone “mixed”.
One time in church, I overheard a conversation about crayons. A leader in the church was complaining because Crayola had changed the name on one of their crayons. “I’m not being racist, but seriously? That’s just being oversensitive!” The name of the crayon color? Flesh. It was tan.
One time in a restaurant, I was ordering breakfast and witnessed the following:
There was a hispanic construction crew eating together. They’d ordered in English and then started a conversation in Spanish amongst themselves. The other large group was a bunch of white, middle aged men discussing politics. One of the second group raised his voice so that everyone could hear and said the following: “I hate it when people move to another country and don’t learn to speak the native language. What’s next? My kids will be required to learn Spanish in school because these immigrants came into our country and won’t make their kids learn to speak English!” Never mind that the first group had ordered in English.
At the time, I was at my most awkward. That’s no excuse. I still wish I’d stood up and said “So…you’re actually speaking Iroquoian or another Native American language, right?”
I was horrified by this man’s rudeness. But I didn’t say anything and so if those hispanic work men think about that encounter at all, they will remember the rude white guy and the silent white girl. They could have remembered the rude white guy and the white girl who rejected his casual racism.
My silence gave them a single story of white Americans. To this day, I am still ashamed of my inaction. I knew better.
As I started to grow up and pay attention, I noticed a pattern…a pattern that assumed, unless otherwise stated, that the hero would be male and white. I noticed that the stories that held more variety were still being praised as “progressive”. At first I was confused, because this was in the 2,000s…Civil Rights was years ago, so why was the “progressive” label still being applied? Not all TV shows and movies were like Star Trek; as I watched more closely and learned more about casting calls, I found out just how skewed Hollywood still is to white leads…specifically white male leads.
Racism. Sexism. Intolerance. Hatred.
These things make people repress stories and silence voices.
The fear of these things make other people keep quiet and not tell their stories.
Through both, we are robbed of rich stories and unique voices. Even the habits of these things without the malice still oppress. Hanging on to old formulas because “they work” and “are the money-makers”, at the very least, signals a lack of imagination. Can’t we trust the power of a well-told story? Let our movies rest on the talents of an actor rather than the color of their skin?
The world is rich in variety…shouldn’t the world of fiction be too?
So what am I doing about this problem? It’s not enough to point it out and blog about it. If the white, straight male is still the default hero, something more active needs to be done.
Laryn and Alyn, my lead characters in my story have “nice chocolatey brown” skin.
Before, they had no skin color. I don’t “see” my characters, they usually don’t have any physical appearance in my head, except maybe the color of their eyes. I had to go back and add brief mentions of their skin color. It’s not a defining characteristic, it does not change or alter their characters…most importantly, it does not make them and their story any less complex. It is there, canon and set in stone. They are not “default setting”. Will these two girls in W.I.P. story change the world? Probably not. Will all my main characters be “chocolatey brown”? No. I’m not limiting myself. I’m going to write many stories, God willing, and my characters will be as varied as my friends.
Laryn and Alyn are my apology to those hispanic work men in McDonalds and all the children who are ever made to feel that they need be white to be the hero in a story instead of the side-kick. They are my rebellion against the casual racism in American fiction. They are a nod to the Turks I grew up around.
One of the most distinguishing facets of us INFPs is our “crusades” or “causes”. Or, as some people refer to them, our “pet projects”.
I dislike this term excessively. I think it cheapens the importance our causes play in our lives. My causes are not cute little quirks that others humor; they are not futile gestures I indulge in, sucking up energy that should be reserved for more practical things…like making money.
No, no, no. Without my crusades, I am not a whole person. Without a cause to champion, I am only directionless empathy, and I cannot dream like I was meant to.
I am not a “gentle warrior” when it comes to my crusades; while gentleness might be my signature in every other part of my life, it has no place in this part. These crusades touch the foundations of our values…mess with them and you’ll found out just how much backbone an INFP’s got. We tend to hide it under a veil of politeness and sensitivity, but make no mistake. It’s there. And disrespecting our core values and crusades with bring down upon you all the wrath, assertiveness and aggression you thought we didn’t have.
Just because we reserve our energy does not mean we’ve got a limited supply. We will not back down from defending our crusades…you might as well ask me to stop breathing, because that’ll happen first.
My crusades are widespread, but they all fall under the umbrella of the “those that have been told they’re not good enough.” I have a big issue with ANYBODY being degraded and told that they are “less than human”. While the Holocaust may be the first thing that springs to mind, evil isn’t always obvious or marked with a swastika.
Bullying, ignorance, prejudice, neglect, “stick ’em in an institution” mentalities…they all attempt to chip away at the humanity of those who are different, those that often lack a voice to speak for themselves.
Autism, Down’s syndrome, dementia, mental disabilities, developmental disorders. More than I can list. You’re people too. Saying so doesn’t make it so, because you had it all along. But if you ever need a little help getting the respect you deserve, I’m here to shout from the rooftops.
I raise my voice for all those who have been told that theirs is not worthy of attention because they are not “normal’. To the schoolyard bully, the people who talk over my brother, internet commenters who think differences are diseases, those who take advantage of the elderly, I say this:
“Life isn’t normal. There’s no such thing. A ‘perfect’ society of ‘normal’ people would be perfectly boring. I won’t live in that world.
The old man who can’t string five coherent words together, he is worth something to this world. The girl who can’t verbalize her thoughts, she is not an overgrown baby…she is a person with complex thoughts and emotions. Those who thought-processes work differently than you, who perceive the world in relentless high-definition, they don’t need an attitude adjustment. Well, they do. Yours.
None of these people are deadweight. None of these people are worthless or even worth less than a normally functioning person. Like the rest of the 7 billion people on this planet, they are human, with all that that entails. They are the Image of God…and not a distorted image either. Remember this: they might not have your attention, but they’ve got God’s ear. And, for what it’s worth, they’ve got my voice.”
This is why I am a certified nursing aide. This is why I am a writer.
This is my crusade. You’ve been warned. Either get out of the way or get onboard.
Dear Emily, the next time I blithely promise you a list of unique names that “wraps around the earth”, kindly remind me that this is not, in fact, very much of an exaggeration. This started as a text or ten…then it turned into a monster and got away from me. 😉
Science fiction and fantasy names: those unique, exotic, out-of-this-world handles. What’s a writer to do if they don’t have fifty years to develop their own languages a la J.R.R. Tolkien?
You could make up your names….
Murae—um, not bad.
Quenneth—there’s only thing to be said: don’t kill me, I was 12.
Aithon–not too bad.
Ecan—something that sounds good at 2 am and terrible at noon.
Yatsuur–at least it sounds alien…
You could hijack ordinary names and words and change a letter or add a punctuation mark (by far the most popular letter and mark are Y and an apostrophe)…
Erig– from Eric
Cosa–from C.O.T.A., certified occupational therapy assistant
Avani–based off a mispronunciation of the very pretty Indian name “Avni”.
About a million variations of Kaley, Helen, Mary, Lyn or Anne…
You could take a common name like Sam or Cass and make it the shortened version of a grand-sounding made up name…
“Chip”, Chipiparo (That’s mine. From age 11. I swear my tastes have improved!)
“Ann”, Derannon—not really making my case…
You could randomly hit your keyboard and pronounce the resulting “name” as an ordinary American name or word…
Tuiwge, “Twig” (This one took some squinting and tweaking!)
Ruilean, “Ryan” (The L is silent, don’tcha know?)
You could watch the credits of movies, with a notepad and the remote or scour the index pages of plant books…
Adai–from somewhere I don’t even remember
Aisling–from The Clinic
Kilik–from a producer on Catching Fire
You could flip open The Old Testament and pull names from the extensive genelogies…
You could name everybody common nouns and imply that the names have already been translated into the reader’s native language…
Or you could go to a site like Behind the Name and set the filters however strikes your fancy. Turkish and Welsh are my go-to languages: Turkish because they remind me of when I was a little girl in Turkey; Welsh ’cause it’s cool.
Then you can play with the spelling or swap genders to your heart’s content.
Seriously now, here’s a list of my favorite “sci-fi/fantasy” names that sound out of this world but really aren’t…
Laryn (f, modern American variation of Lauren)
Clio (f, Latinized Greek) “glory”
Zora (f, Slavic) “dawn”
Miren (f, Basque) “bitter”, from Mara/Mary
Aisha (f, Arabic) “alive”
Avi (m, Hebrew) “my father”, contraction of Avraham
Soren (m, Germanic) “stern”
Stien (m, Norse) “wanderer”
Hagon (m, Germanic) “high son”
Ansgar (m, Germanic) “god-spear”
Aydin (m, Turkish) “enlightened”
Eren (m, Turkish) “holy person”
Erol (m, Turkish) “brave”
Ithran (m, Hebrew)
Ephraim (m, Hebrew)
Evren (m and f, Turkish) “cosmos”
Aylin, Ayla, Tulin (f, Turkish) “moon halo”
Ayrin (modern variation of “Erin”)
Senka (f, Serbian) “shadow”
Isra (f, Arabic) “journey by night”
Zayne (m or f)
Jinan (f, Turkish) “garden”
Lynnea (f, variation of Lynn)
Shatona (f, Native American)
Alina (f, Arabic, French)
Avni (f, Indian) “the earth”
Nahtan (m, Nathan reversed, The Poisonwood Bible)
Zhaigo (m, based off our Chinese visitor’s pronunciation of “Chicago”)
Iskander (m, Turkish version of Alexander)
Evander (m, Greek)
And my all-time favorite: Alyn, pulled from Alina, an Arabic feminine name meaning “noble”, and Alina, a Germanic contraction of Adelina (also meaning “noble”), and Alan–one of meaning of which is “noble”–and a WelchAllyn vital sign machine at work, which serves a very noble purpose. Therefore I declare that Alyn means “noble”. I can do that. I’m the author.
First off, I’m not pregnant.
No, the nascent person in need of a handle is a character in my story…who keeps slipping out of her name.
There’s a character named Alyn (pronounced Uh-lyn, not Alan). She’s quite attached to her name. Then there’s my main girl, whose name up until now has been Adai. The relationship between these two is a main focus of the story…which necessitates the frequent use of such sentences as “Adai and Alyn”.
This is where I ran into a problem: my beta readers/patient family are getting confused as to who is who. Halfway through listening to me hash out an issue with a character or reading through a passage, a bewildered expression will settle on their faces and hands start going up in the air.
It never crossed my mind that the two names, each four letters starting with an A and having a tall second letter, would be easy to confuse.
Adai and Alyn.
Do you think they are too similar?
And if so, which of the following just stands out and sounds plausible as a Sci-Fi name? And by Sci-Fi, I mean alien.
Laryn (pronounced “lar-ren”, not Lauren)
I’ve got it narrowed to these 5, but I just can’t pick between them.
P.S., Mom, no comments about that slutty Turkish girl we knew named “Aisha”.
The hardest part about my job is losing a resident. It hurts…but you have to keep moving. And while you never really “get used to it”, you do learn how to handle the death of someone you’ve cared for.
The last time I lost someone, I grabbed a paper napkin and jotted this down. I’m not even sure it counts as a poem as it doesn’t even rhythm; I suppose I could have tightened it up a bit…but I don’t want to. Raw is how I felt when I wrote this. Raw is how I feel when I remember.
A last kiss on your forehead,
Still warm to the touch
But soon you’ll be cold
How do you say goodbye?
A last whispered “I love you”
Because it’s not just money
That’s luring me here
How do you say goodbye?
You were dying when I met you
They called it “going downhill”
Every day just a little worse
And now you’re dying no more
But how do I say goodbye?
Sponge down your body
You shouldn’t be so still
Wash your face, fold your hands
New sheets for the bed
I can’t say I’m sorry
You’re in pain no more
How do you say goodbye?
A last touch, then I’m done
Move on to the living
I can’t help you anymore
Seven other people
Still need me today
You’re gone and I can’t cry
And you’re still gone
A new face in your bed
New stories to learn
I have to keep working
And so I move on
It’s a year down the road,
And your face is fading
Sit down and cry
Because I can’t remember
How to fix your coffee
How do you remember
Everyone you’ve ever lost?
How do you say goodbye?