Do not weep

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Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling fligh
I am the soft starlight at night
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye

Reflections on Prior Experiences With Grammar

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I will be the first to admit: I don’t really know grammar. I’ve always considered myself an intuitive user of English– the rules and appropriate do’s and don’ts embedded somewhere inside me.  I have my mother to thank for my good grasp of English—she instilled a need to read voraciously when I was a very small child. I had an ambition to read Charlotte’s Web when I was five, and she worked with me to read that book. In two years I was reading R.L. Stine religiously all by myself. I would check out a 20 plus stack of books and return them all before their due dates in my childhood summers. So this let me acquire language completely naturally. I learned how to use words based on a very strong skill of using context clues—I rarely had to look anything up (and often didn’t.)

I think this fault I have with grammar rules may come from either being inattentive during my elementary years when the basic rules were taught, or it came from poor teaching. I have a vague recollection of a classroom with bright colorful signs marked “Verbs” or “Adjectives” and examples of words dangling from them on colorful index cards. That time, it was second grade and I was mainstreamed in a hearing environment. I really do not remember much “teaching” coming from there. I recall that I doodled constantly and I have no idea what my interpreters did to gain my attention.

Then came middle school, I remember turning in an essay and when it was returned to me, the paper was pockmarked with red corrections. I accepted all of them, except for one that confused me. I requested the teacher to tell me why this particular expression was incorrect, and I was fiercely reprimanded. “Just change it! It’s wrong!” But why? I still don’t really know. That teacher and I never quite got along anyway, and it appears she still teaches at the same classroom to this day. It kind of dawned on me a few years into high school, that maybe she had been an intuitive user also, and did not really know her rules either.

In high school, I can recall easily a lot of grammar exercises. Every week, Ms. Chase presented us with a new rule. We learned about prepositions, pronouns, and gerunds. She would explain them to the class with a snazzy PowerPoint presentation, and afterwards we filled out a worksheet. At the end of the week, there would be a quiz. I remembered only enough to pass the quiz and then I moved on. What’s a gerund? I can’t tell you.
Being in a deaf school and possessing proper grammar meant I got graded easier, teachers were thankful they did not have to wrestle with awkward sentences and confusing word choices when they read my papers. It also hailed me a certain status of entitlement among my peers—they trusted I knew what I was talking about, and I was asked often to peer review. Oh peer review—how I hated it! I never got adequate reviews on my papers, and my papers often benefited very little from this annoying activity—even to this day in Gallaudet. I was always the popular choice for doing peer reviews to others, but my pickings for reviews were slim.

Then came my job at T.I.P, where students questioned me for my corrections! It was often the international students, who had come here and had been armed with a set of grammar rules to strictly follow. They weren’t students who had used English all their lives and were comfortable receiving corrections without argument. I felt guilty for not being able to answer their questions, and forced myself to be comfortable answering with “I have not really thought about that, but let me look it up for you and explain it to you.” Through this job I’ve been able to “re-learn” my grammar rules, but it seems that despite how often I try to review, I constantly forget the “names” for these rules and find myself stranded without an ability to explain and categorize these sentences.

Desiderata

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Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann

————

My mom had this on a plaque– I realize now that this was always in a place that she was often at; our apartment it was in the living room/kitchen then in our last home it was in her master bathroom. I remember as a child, I decided this was extremely important and that I must read and understand it. I was probably seven. Naturally I got bored at “placidly” because it was a hard word and too big for me. I quickly abandoned the idea and back up the wall the plaque went.  But the word “Desiderata” always fascinated me. Only today did I look it up– it’s Latin for “to desire”. I wish I asked her what it meant to her, and why she kept it close but that’s another addition to my list of too-late wishes.

I have often, as my brothers, seen a side of her that nobody has. But now that she’s gone, I don’t wish to dwell on the bad. I remind myself of her positive strengths, and my eulogy spoke of only the positive. At the memorial so many people went up to me and told me stories about her and I realized how little I really knew about her. But I can see that the principles of Desiderata was what she truly embodied when she met these people. That’s all these people saw in her. I’m glad for that, I guess. I’m glad nobody had a negative memory of her.

I was often at the receiving end of her criticisms and opinions of other people, but that was because she trusted me. Everyone at the memorial did not know this about her, because to them she never said a bad word– why would she, anyway? That’s not really who she is.

This has been a sad year for me already, my dog that I’ve had for 17 years was put down (we all saw it coming but I always saw her as something of a last link to Mom) and my other dog hurt his knee. I won’t see him until May. And finally, today, the true meaning of Desiderata has appeared to me. I understand it now, I think. Maybe I will be able to be at more of a peace with this. It hurts, but maybe it’ll help me be more accepting of the circumstances that she left under. Her birthday is approaching, she’d have been 58. I’m not sure what I’m gonna do on that day, but I’ll do something if I can.

 

Here.

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This is my mom, circa 1960. Her first driving license. This is the woman that worked 2, a little into 3, jobs so I could be Miss Deaf Teen America and whatever the hell I wanted to be. This is the person I miss the most.

Slacktivism

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Notice the trends going around on Facebook? The events we’ve had on Gallaudet?

“Change your profile picture to a cartoon to support stopping child abuse!”

 “Wear purple on this certain day to support anti-bullying!”

There are also different methods to post your support or anti-support of a certain topic. Putting in an amount of inches and accompanying it with a😦 to “raise breast cancer awareness” on your status. Nevermind the fact that quite a bit of people got SO confused over it. Kind of an oxymoron there, isn’t it? Don’t tell people what the game is, and expect to raise awareness. Hm. Okay. That’s some smart marketing, there.

There’s a new term being coined that’s currently running all around the Internet: Slacktivism. Obviously, this word is a mixture of two words:  slacker and activism. Slacktivism is an enigma that lets people hide under the illusion that if they do any of the following: re-tweeting this, or posting a certain type of a profile picture, signing an internet petition, or don a specifically colored shirt, write something on their arms, they are “doing something” by effectively doing nothing.
They’re too lazy to get off their butts to attend events, fundraisers, or places where they could actually contribute something with their resources. They would just rather hide under a comfortable “activist” bubble of illusion (also known as the space behind your laptop with multiple windows of social networking sites open.)

Go ahead and argue, say that all this is spreading awareness, bringing us together, whatever. A person I know kind of sums up the whole cartoon-profile-picture ridiculousness, currently on Facebook right now, well. “I was going to punch a 6 year old this morning, but when I got on Facebook and saw all the cartoon profile pictures, I decided not to.”

Some people argue that we can successfully raise awareness by rallying together the slacktivists—tell them to wear something, tell them to re-tweet this, post a status update about that. They’re too lazy to come to rallies or fundraisers, so might as well utilize them to be public relations. They’re already on all sorts of social networking sites, and the “real” activists don’t have time to spread awareness. Problem solved! I don’t like it. It lets them continue the destructive cycle of apathy.

Participating in slacktivism is a way to allay guilt for being too lazy to actually do anything. The problem I have with this kind of “activism” is just this: it creates illusions. I don’t like illusions. Do you? Get out of your bubble there. It also allows really evil people to continue hiding.

A person may have just beat up a gay person, but pressured by others to wear purple, he wears purple on October 20th and effectively erases his action. Now people think he’s an ally. I saw a status that really ground my nerves that day—“I don’t have any purple shirt to wear, so I borrowed a girl’s but it’s too small. Gay ain’t it?” He is wearing the right color on the right day, but with the completely wrong attitude. Someone might have hit their kid for crying too much but hey, erase the memory by putting up a profile picture of Sleeping Beauty!

Slacktivism. Next time you’re tempted to post a profile picture or a status update, think about the effect it really is going to have (I’ll tell you now—none.) Don’t just wear purple to support anti-bullying. Stand up for the kid you know is being bullied. Suspect someone of being suicidal? Instead of writing something on your arms, smile at them—be the one to extend contact. That spreads a much stronger message.

Someday

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Someday, I’ll move on I guess. Someday the pain of knowing that if I send a text, I won’t be getting a reply, will go away. I’m not going to be poked back on Facebook. There will be people who will never understand the magnitude of this pain of losing someone close to you– and they attempt to, or brush it off, which are both equally offensive and demeaning. Grief is a complicated business. I’ve developed quite the talent for accepting condolences, however lame or offensive they might be. I ignore snide remarks from my friends who are present during these awkward exchanges, because I recognize that the person is trying to make a gesture the best as they deem. Who am I to criticize? They don’t understand.

I guess someday it will be okay that I won’t ever be coming home, climbing up those steps to my porch and then poking around in my backpack for my keys to be greeted by my dogs enthusiastically. I guess it will be okay that the very last time I hugged Mom will always remain just that– the last time. The last text I sent her will always be the last one. My cousin believes in communicating with the departed through dreams and I keep having really frustrating dreams when Mom appears. Sometimes I’m hesitant to talk to her, because I know she’s dead and I feel like if I communicate with her, she’ll disappear and it’s my fault, or that this is some kind of bizarre last chance to bring her back. In all of my dreams lately she’s disappeared on me constantly, and this afternoon she was blind and couldn’t see me. Things come up that call my attention away from her. It’s probably the fact that I can’t really sit down and think about her, because if I do, then I get sad about it, and I feel like people expect me to get over it. I’ve gotta fulfill those expectations don’t I? I get weird looks and complaints for sleeping a lot, or sleeping at strange schedules– but these are the times where I get to see her again. Only thing that helps is if I talk about her in the present… But then I look crazy for doing it.

It's my wallpaper for my desktop right now... I made this, it's also my own photo.

My dwellings…

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I have to say this is the best “dwelling” I’ve lived in, in the past 3 years of living in dorms. I live in a suite with 3 other girls, and we have a living room and our own bathroom. It’s like the college experience you see on TV. Exciting😉

Living room…

our couch isn't really that big... Some of the girls convinced their guy friends to give us extra sections.

Where I keep my drinks and nuke my food..😛 There isn't really anything in there at the moment, except my roomies' beer.

What it looks like right before you enter. The bed you immediately see, is my roommate. She always makes her bed and makes me feel like the messy one😉

When you enter, there's that mirror that I got for free from my awesome friend (it was broken and I patched it up :P) Jenee's and my drawers, and the neat shelf thing that she's nice enough to share with me, on the top.

This is my half of the cube shelf thing. On the very top is my books for this semester. In the shelves are random things and yes that's my cute boyfriend and I in that photo strip😛 Also, ignore the hand grenade souvenir I got from New Orleans during spring break.

Because I know you guys want to know what kind of books I'm reading this semester.. 18 books😛 When my plate overflows, I grab a second one -_-

This is my bed set up, and my "cave" as my roomie's friend Adam puts it. When you turn around from the shelves, this is what you see. Wardrobe in the far wall, desk, ladder, my bed up there (notice, it isn't made)

What it looks like in the far area of under my bed, right next to the wardrobe. I am very impressed with my organizational skills and success at putting everything away!! The long blue boxes on the floor hold my shoes. Do I really need that big box of 5 hour energy shots? yes, yes. I do.

Doesn't my desk look neat and organized?! I love it!! Check out that nifty shelf right above my desk. I can shove my books there and make a "clean working area" for myself.😉 I also need to make some important looking notes to pin up on my neat bulletin boards.

Inside my wardrobe. I have three drawers, my hanging jewelry organizer, and I used my cube storage thing to create more space inside my wardrobe. That little green box on the very bottom holds my random bags and purses. I can't wait for fall to come so I can wear that snazzy wool jacket I love!

Because I know you guys desperately want to see what it looks like above my bed. I plan to get a long extension plug and then maybe a little lamp. I keep my journal, my Kindle up there. My glasses, sometimes when I climb up and forget to take them off.

Most important thing I’ve gotten this semester so far?

My eye shades!

I know, I know. It gets so freaking bright up here on the 7th floor and my bed is right across the window. I can’t sleep in past 7 am (yes I have heard of curtains), and if I’m right about to fall asleep and my roommate enters the room, it takes me another 30 mins to fall asleep. So my solution? I got those freaking awesome eye shades for about 8 bucks (with free shipping too, thanks Amazon student prime!) and while I’m still sort of getting used to them, they are very comfortable. I’ve only had them for about 3 days so far.

So far that’s it. I love my room. The set up is so neat, compact and college-y. Three years it has taken me to finally get to this point!! I know, no decorations so far. We’re working on that! I’m gonna post up my arty film prints soon, but I haven’t decided on where. Above the cube shelf? Around my bed?

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