The Kindle, Book Reading Made Easy

If you haven’t heard about The Kindle yet, maybe you’ve seen it.  Perhaps you’ve been to a bar recently where you’ve sat next to someone who was attentively reading an electronic tablet the size of a small notebook; I was sitting next to a Kindler this week and I thought to myself – really?

Was lugging around a book too cumbersome?  Was having to ear mark pages such a nuisance?  Was the schlep to Barnes & Noble or Books-A-Million to great a journey? 

Was it REALLY necessary to make reading a book easier or more convenient?

The Kindle is yet another device that is dooming a means of artistic expression.  Not only will cover artists lose out if The Kindle trend takes off but human beings will lose out too.  We will lose one of the very small ways that we express who we are, what we’re looking for, or what we wish to get lost in.  The books we carry around – on the train, on the beach, in a restaurant – give insight into who we are. 

Perhaps I’m just nosy, but soon we won’t be able to judge (in the most non-judgey sense of the word) people by their book covers.   Instead we’ll find ourselves on the train/bus/beach staring at the back of someone’s Kindle – that is going to be sad. 

It’s sad that in a couple of years books as we know them might go away, replaced by these gadgets that don’t evoke any emotion.  I remember living in New York City riding the train to work every day and observing the books that fellow passengers held in their hand.  There were the New York Times bestseller readers and the Oprah book club followers – these people were members of book tribes.  I loved seeing the trends in books…just as you can pretty much guarantee that three out of every five women bought leggings and slouchy boots this season, there was a time when you could guarantee that three out of five people would be reading A Million Little Pieces, Eat Pray Love, or Angels & Demons

DS Download:  Books are beautiful accessories that aren’t just for reading.  They’re for expressing who we are, they decorate rooms, adorn coffee tables, and physically convey rich history.  I see The Kindle as a threat to all of that.  I’m taking a stand against “easiness”…yes it’s nice for some things to come easy like love and friendship etc, but I don’t need my book reading to be made any easier.  So whoever is out there thinking of an easier way to open a door, or put on lip gloss – I say, no thank you.

Cry, The Beloved Country

Although I’ve never read Cry, The Beloved Country, a book by South African author Alan Paton, those are the only words that comfort me as I look through the graphic photos of the devastation in Haiti.  As the people of Haiti cry, so do the citizens of the world. 

I did not truly comprehend the extent of the damage until last night.  Last night I watched the evening news and saw the footage of the buildings, neighborhoods, and people that looked as though they had been broken into tiny pieces.  I couldn’t do anything but fight back the tears.

The sadness and despair that the images convey is too great to bear and I am only seeing an image conveyed through a camera lens.  To be there, living that reality, or to be here with no information on your loved ones has got to be something akin to the tests that Job encountered in the bible. 

I don’t claim to be extremely religious and I don’t attend church like I should but I do believe in God.  It’s during the lowest points that you need to feel a connection with God the most.  However believing in God during a trajedy of such epic proportions evokes a strange mixture of solace and vacancy – solace in my belief, vacancy in the helplessness that this tragedy makes me feel…Why God?  Why did this have to happen to these people?  Why did this happen to this vulnerable country?  God – please help these people.

DS Download:  My grandfather didn’t talk about the bible to much, but I do remember him telling me about the book of Job.  He used to tell me the story of how God tested Job because the devil was convinced that Job only believed in God because of his good fortune – wealth, plentiful crops, children etc.  To show the devil that Job was a true believer God stripped Job of every earthly possession, but even in the midst of tragedy Job did not forsake God…he questioned God, but he never lost his faith. 

I am reminded of the story of Job as I attempt to piece together my own faith in light of this hellish tragedy.  I am reminded that – as my Grandfather would say – I may have doubts and I may question God but if I have faith the size of a mustard seed then that faith can move mountains. 

I guess faith and a true belief in something bigger than us is the only thing that can be comforting in a time like this.  Though we are currently sharing tears with the people of Haiti we look forward to one day soon rejoicing in their triumphs.

To donate $10 to the American Red Cross text “HAITI” to 90999.

My Thoughts on The Bachelor

Monday night I was watching The Bachelor and I was horrified – it was equal parts I can’t believe I’m watching this and I can’t believe these people are serious.

As I sat and watched the bachelor go from being convinced that a certain woman might have been “the one” to complete and utter shock upon finding out that “the one” had conducted herself “inappropriately” with a crew member, I had to do some soul searching of my own.  I had to ask myself some important questions – Why do I find this show to be so completely ridiculous?  And why am I watching it?

Why do I find the show to be completely ridiculous?…The bottom line is that I think I’m a bit to old school to be comfortable with The Bachelor’s format, women trying out for a man.  I am however comfortable with The Bachelorette’s format, men trying out for a woman.  Why do I watch the show?…Because it makes me somewhat uncomfortable. 

I know that double standards are tired but unfortunately desperation never looks good on a woman and the things that these women do look desperate – not romantic.  When women act desperate it doesn’t come off as being romantic or determined, it just looks stalker-like.  When men take desperate measures their efforts are most often romanticized. 

I would dare say that when women take desperate measures they are quietly being sized up for their straight-jackets.  Trust me on this one.  You might say I’m absurd but you can look at pop culture and see clear instances where men chasing women was romanticized:

•   John Cusack standing outside of his love interests house in the rain with a radio over his head – Say Anything 
•   Laurence Fishburne standing outside of Rachel’s dorm yelling/begging for her to come down – School Daze
•   Dwayne Wayne running down the aisle at Whitley’s wedding screaming “baby baby please “– A Different World

Reverse the gender roles in any of the above situations and the woman would be classified as grade A stalker material.

Aside from the fact that the vast majority of the women on the show seem to have some sort of chemical imbalance, I am further baffled by the odd camaraderie that these women have with each other.  Patting each other on the back and giving each other hugs of encouragement that they made the cut; giving each other pep talks when one gets sad and is thinking about going home… “you should stay, don’t quit on Jake”.  Are they working together as some sort of team to fall in love with this man???

And then there are the polite/passive-aggressive ways that they interrupt each other to steal time with Jake and read a note, or talk about their yodeling hobby etc.  They’re all desperately plotting a way to properly “express their interest” to him…almost like they were trying to pledge.

Even more bizarre are the tears that are in the women’s eyes when they get sent home.  You JUST MET THIS GUY – you can’t be sad that you didn’t get him, you’ve got to be crying simply because you aren’t the winner of “the prize”…in this case said prize is a doe eyed blonde man who’s playing the role of the good guy.

Each girl that went home on Monday night had the same general statement…I came here to find true love, and I thought I would be the one for him but I guess he just couldn’t see that – did you really think that you would be the one?  Did you really think that in the first couple of days he would be able to see you for who you were?  The first round of cuts is all about looks (and this makes sense, it happens in real life).  I’m not saying that it’s impossible to find true love on reality TV but if you’re shocked that you didn’t find love on ABC’s The Bachelor you might as well pull your lip over your head and swallow – I’m just sayin!

DS Download:  None of us would like to imagine that love is contrived or desperate, most of us imagine that love is natural and that falling for someone is an organic process – not one that turns on when people are miced up and dealing with a camera in front of their face.  However for Jake’s sake I hope that – in the midst of all that comes with filming a reality TV show – he finds “the one.”

IM – Instant Moral (support)

I just found out that one of my dearest friends will not have the use of IM anymore.  Not to say that we spent an exorbitant amount of time during work hours on IM, but it was nice to know she was there. 

We gave each other moral support throughout the day with the occasional “keep your head up” or “relax, relate, release,” and then there were the importance of establishing emotional boundaries conversations…sometimes we even caught up on each other’s love lives.  I would ask about her beau, she would ask about mine, and so on and so forth.

I didn’t find out that she would be inaccessible via IM until this morning.  I noticed for the past couple of days that I hadn’t seen her name on my buddy list…mysteriously I’d seen her on Facebook, but only briefly (I tried to IM her of Facebook but of course, as soon as I sent the message she had signed off – I hate it when that happens!  But I think I hate the Mafia War updates more). 

After she was M.I.A for a couple of days I finally had to take it back to the old days and pick up the phone and call, it was time to get the T (T=story). 

DS Download:  It turns out my friend’s job function has changed and field assignments will mean that she won’t be at her desk as much anymore.  We’ll get past this…we will…but it sucks knowing that she won’t be there to chuckle at a joke, or lend quick moral support from my buddy list.  I guess if we want to catch up now we’ll be required to make time to catch up over the phone. 

Making time to catch up over the phone might not be so bad.  We’ve all read articles about the fact that relying on digital mediums to connect has actually served to isolate us a bit more – granted we have Facebook, BBM, LinkedIn, AOL IM etc but a good phone call with a friend is good for the soul.  Hearing someone’s voice makes all of the difference in the world; you can hear pure joy or detect signs of despair…taking the time to call means that you really care.  It only requires time, and aren’t our real friends worth that?

Let’s make 2010 the year of the phone call…I’ll toast to that.

DC Ink

I’m not sure why I’ve got the sudden urge to get a tattoo.  Perhaps it’s a longing for spontaneity or the need for something different but does it even need to be that deep?  Maybe I just want one.  I’ve drawn up a couple of designs and each has a sentimental meaning…I also thought about just getting a couple of small dots.  I think I ruled out the dots after googling “dot tattoos” and coming up with a list of results that connected dot tattoos with prison gang affiliation!

There’s a level of bad-assness that I associate with getting a tattoo.  It’s daring.  It’s carefree.  It’s fearless.  Therefore I wonder if someone such as myself can get one.  Not that I feel as though I’m not daring/carefree/fearless but does the fact that I’m doing all of this online research and vacillating over this decision make me to much of a non-badass worrier to get one? 

Most tattoo stories seem to involve some level of whimsy; maybe I’m scared that my tattoo story would be the lamest story out.  I imagine myself saying telling some stranger “after much fore thought, careful consideration, and research via google I came to this design because of….”  I guess I could make up a badass story to tell strangers.

I’m also slightly scared of what my Dad will say.  It’s not that I’m not afraid of my mother it’s just that she’s become more and more resolved that I will make my own decisions in life and that I will have to live with those decisions. 

I’ll never forget what my Dad said to me when I told him that I got a belly ring:

 Me                  Dad I got a belly ring
 My Dad         Why?
 Me                  Because I wanted to do something exciting
 My Dad        Well why not just walk out in the middle of the street and sh*t on yourself?
 Me                 Silence and confusion

What did getting a belly ring have to do with me hypothetically crapping my pants??…ahh, my old man.  I can only imagine what he’ll say about a tattoo – BUT he did brand himself with his fraternity’s shield when he was younger so I’m not that worried. 

DS Download:  The question that weighs on me most heavily is what will I want to live with for the rest of my life?  But that is also the question that puzzles me the most – how in the world at 30 do I know what I will want for the rest of my life? and why do I have to know?  Only the creator knows how long my life will be so why spend any time being scared of being scared? 

We all want certain things for ourselves and what I would most like is to be fearless.  I have forced myself to be fearless before so why not do it now.  I think this quote sums up my feelings “each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”

Getting a tattoo would be about accepting a certain loss of control in life and veering off of an expected path.  It would be a constant reminder to stay true to being at peace and looking for peace in all situations…I’ll keep you posted! 

If you’re reading this and you have a tattoo, why did you get one?  How was your experience?  Any regrets?