frogg files

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick." --Flannery O' Connor

Friday, January 25, 2008

Let it Rain, Let it Rain, Let it Rain

I don't really mind the rain, in small doses. But a week of rain is a bit much. And that's about what we've had. It's raining now, in fact. Rain, rain, rain.

Sigh.

On the plus side, Big Bear is getting some snow, so methinks a little jaunt into the mountains for a snowboarding adventure is on the cards in the not-too-distant future. I went a couple weekends ago, and it was quite invigorating, but I'm about ready for another fix.

Another plus: a co-worker who didn't want her fortune cookie (silly co-worker) gave it to me, and I was delighted to discover that "an enjoyable vacation is awaiting" me. Although I did have to wonder: is "enjoyable vacation" redundant? I kind of hope so, because otherwise, what on earth's the point.

In other news, a friend of mine sent me a list yesterday of reasons why I should consider moving to Kentucky. He had a pretty good list, actually, citing the growing literary scene there, outdoorsy activities, and an apparently really amazing fireworks show that happens at some point every year. (And then there was "fried okra", which was rather less of a good selling point than all the rest, in my opinion.) Anyway, I thought the list on the whole was a cool idea. It made me wonder if anyone else might want to make a case for any potential future frogg residence(s). Feel free to post any reasons/lists as comments. I am open to any suggestions.

(Except Minnesota. Last week I got a phone call from a friend who lives there, and he left a voice mail describing, in harrowing detail, his experience of trying to pump gas into his car late at night, when it was 14 below. Anyplace where you have to spend 5 minutes holding onto a pen to warm the ink enough so that you can write down your mileage information, etc., is just WAY TOO COLD.)

Friday, January 11, 2008

National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

If you're like me, you probably didn't know there was such a thing as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. Well, now you do. And today is it!

Also if you're like me, you're probably thinking, "Oh no, another person drumming on about yet another cause that I have to feel guilty about." Well, I admit that my own first response to hearing more about injustice issues like this is to shy away. First of all, because I don't need another reason to feel guilty in my life. And second, because knowledge, after all, breeds responsibility to act. And I don't like to act, because maybe it will be inconvenient. Maybe it will be scary. Maybe I'll make a fool out of myself.

Maybe I'll have to stop being so self-centered.

Ouch.

Please understand, I am not accusing anyone else of self-centeredness. All I'm saying is, whatever fears or struggles you may have about getting involved in an issue like this, or perhaps some other cause that pulls at your heart, believe me, I have them, too. But let's remember, we don't all have to transform ourselves overnight into William Wilberforce or some other heroic figure. We can start small. We can start timidly, and yes, even fearfully. We can start reluctantly and with skepticism.

But hey, we ought at least to start, right?

On Wednesday night, I went to hear Kevin Bales, president of the non-profit organization Free the Slaves, speak about "Ending Slavery" as part of the ALoud LA series. Here are three facts that I learned about modern-day slavery:

1) There are an estimated 27 million people enslaved worldwide today.

2) An estimated 14.5-17.5 thousand people get trafficked into the United States annually.

3) The biggest challenges to ending slavery are threefold: Awareness; Commitment (particularly on the parts of governments, to uphold their laws and resolutions); and Money (non-profit organizations depend on donor support to maintain and expand their operations. Also, from an economic standpoint, slave labor is cheap (free), which translates to less expensive goods, which translates to most people's bottom line).

I think what I liked best about Dr. Bales' presentation was that I didn't leave that night feeling crushed by the burden of how hopeless the whole issue is. There are things that can be done, and things that ARE being done. And one thing that is pretty easy to do is simply learn more about the problem. Here are some links to resources that should help you do that:

International Justice Mission
Polaris Project
NightLight

That is by no means a comprehensive list, of course. There are also plenty of books available, including Disposable People by Kevin Bales and Terrify No More by Gary Haugen.

So anyway, tonight I'll be joining some friends in Old Town Pasadena as part of an effort to raise awareness about trafficking. We'll be sharing information with people we meet on the street. Do I want to do this? Well... yes and no. Remember what I said about all the reasons I don't like to act? This kind of shindig is exactly what I was talking about. Inconvenient and scary, with plenty of potential for making me feel foolish. And while I wish I could say that I was looking forward to it with great eagerness, the plain fact is, part of me does not want to go. Another part of me is making me. The part that tries, often with a great deal of unsuccess, to get me to realize: sometimes, life is not about me.

Addendum: I just realized, reading over this post, that I still somehow managed to make it mostly about me! Hmmm. Go figure.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Semantically Speaking...

I had this thought the other day, that I might be a romantic pragmatist.

Then I thought, "Hmm, that might be semantically impossible."

At which point I thought, "Cool!"

I like being impossible things.

In other, much more exciting, news, I was engaged in a heated online Scrabble game with a friend the other day and played "qat" to the tune of 65 points. The best part is that I still don't know what "qat" actually means. But it's a valid word in Scrabble.

As are "wo" and "li", by the way, but that's just dumb.

Also dumb is the fact that I ended up losing the game, but let's not go there.

Apart from playing Scrabble, I finished a rather long essay this week that is part of my third-semester requirements. I wrote an elegant, insightful piece of analysis, which explained in so many words ( 7,056 to be exact) why one of my short stories sucks. Not that I used the word "sucks", of course. I believe I said it was "unsuccessful."

Semantics is a beautiful thing, isn't it?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

2008 Is Here!

Well, the New Year has officially begun. And while I wish that I could say one of my New Year's resolutions is to be a better (meaning, more frequent) blogger, the fact is that I did not make any such resolution. Mainly because I have finally accepted the hard, painful truth — making a resolution is just the first step to breaking it. And honestly, who needs the guilt? Not me, thanks. I'm already pretty good at feeling guilty. I'm the sort of person who will apologize to someone else when they step on my toe. The single most oft-repeated phrase people say to me is, "Why are you so hard on yourself?" And the second is, "Why do you say sorry all the time?"

So you can only imagine what not living up to New Year's resolutions could do to me. I say, forget it.

In addition to not believing in making New Year's resolutions, I'm also glad I don't believe in omens, or I might have been a little concerned when, on the last day of 2007, I opened the mailbox to find yet another offer for a pre-paid cremation by the Neptune Society. Hmm.

But omens and non-resolutions aside, I'm excited for 2008. I'm in my third semester of my creative writing program, moving toward graduation in November; I might get to do some overseas traveling (yay!) before 2009 rolls around; and just generally I feel like some good changes are on the horizon. (Changes that I fervently pray will not involve the need for a pre-paid cremation, of course. Because those changes probably wouldn't be good.)

I hope that 2008 will be a great year for all of my faithful readers as well. Here's a toast to you... with kisses, as always, from the frogg princess.