Friday, December 30, 2011

Life Is Good: No Whining Allowed

It seems that this time of year, a lot of people suddenly start to get negative.

Blame it on Winter. Or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Or Post-Holiday Blues.

My Facebook news feed is full of people who think their life is miserable.


Guess what? You're whining.

That is, unless you or a loved one is about to lose your home or job with no alternatives.

Or you or a loved one is about to be shipped off to Afghanistan.

Or you or a loved one been diagnosed with a terminal illness, or suffered the loss of a loved one.

It's easy to fall into the trap of wanting that "perfect life." The shows on TV and the movies in the theater make us think we deserve that.

But just remember Hollywood isn't grounded in reality.

Reality is this: Life does suck from time to time.

But if you are surrounded by loved ones, have a job, have food in your fridge, and a roof over your head, at the end of the day you really can't bitch.

Bills pile up. Relationships end. Friends are lost. People are pricks. But unless it means your life is truly worse than it was at the start of the day, is it worth getting negative over?

Because remember negativity breeds more negativity. And conversely, positivity breeds positivity.

I know it's not easy to wake up and put a fake smile on your face every day. But sometimes it doesn't hurt doing the ol' "fake it until you make it" routine.

And rather than playing your violin, or having cheese with your whine, how about putting on your big girl or big boy pants on and tackling the problems that are making your life more stressful?

Don't like your job? Find a new one.

Don't like your spouse/partner? See above.

Don't like your kids? Well, can't help you there...chances are you had something to do with who they are as a person.

Tired of drama? Eliminate the people causing it from your life.

Wishing things weren't so difficult? Well, again, can't help you there. Life is tough. But it doesn't mean you have to let Life win.

So if you're looking for a New Year's Resolution or two...see the list above and maybe there's a match for something you can do in 2012 to help make your life less sucky.

Or you can just keep whining.

Just don't expect me to stand around listening to it.

Happy New Year, everyone!

From The Prisoner

P.S. - This blog entry was written as a reminder to the author as well.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Professor Gets a D+

I really need to stop in and see my old buddy, Steve Bloom.

Bloom was one of three professors who served on my Master's Project Committee when I got my M.A. in Journalism at the University of Iowa in the early 90s.

My feelings toward Professor Bloom have never been positive.

He was very pompous, and loved to share copies of articles he'd done for the Sacramento Bee and other publications with his students. He tended to talk in first person more than any other prof I had while at Iowa.

And don't get me started on my defense of my M.A. project - starting an alternative weekly newspaper in Iowa City. Yeah, I basically co-founded a business that outlasted me by a good 5-7 years while in grad school. And he attacked me for it.

Why? Because my summary of how we went about starting the newspaper didn't divulge enough of the conflict I had with my co-founder. He wanted the juicy rumors and details. I wanted to say, "Hey buddy, the details are in the in-depth articles we're doing every week about local issues...not about the battle over whether or not we should be renting a copy machine for $120/month."

But I bit my tongue. Even when he told me "I don't think you have what it takes to be a journalist."

Fast forward a few months after my defense of my M.A. project, and I ran into Bloom in front of the J-School building one afternoon.

I didn't want to talk to him, but he saw me, and started up a conversation. "Hey, Steve, I saw that piece you did in The New York Times about the horrible kidnapping and murder in Southeast Iowa. Do you have contacts you can share from the Times?"

"I'll have to look and see," I replied. "But you know I'm not much of a journalist." And I walked away.

So I was not at all surprised when I learned the ol' Professor penned a piece for The Atlantic this week that has many Iowans ready to say "GOSH DARN IT!" Read his article here.

Now I'm not going to dissect the Professor's article item by item, other than to say after living my first 29 years in Iowa (other than a 6 month stint in London), I'd really like to know what he's smoking.

Also, I'm disappointed in his writing. Poor construction, and too wordy.

Read the article and draw your own conclusions on whether he accurately depicts Iowans.

But I'll give you this, Bloom, you got the controversy you seek in your journalism. Every native or current Iowan I know is up in arms about this article.

So I guess you're right after all. If controversy is what journalism is about, you've got what it takes, even if it is at the expense of the truth.

And I don't.

So I propose we trade. You come sell steaks in Minnesota, and I'll come teach journalism to the students at the U of I.

After all, you only told me I didn't have what it took to BE a journalist. You didn't mention anything about TEACHING it.

You get a D+, Bloom.

See me after class.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Youbetcha I Talk Funny!

"Miranda says you have a funny accent."

My friend since fifth grade, Trish, was relaying the message that was just whispered in her ear by her 12-year-old daughter.

"You do!" Miranda added. "You sound funny!"

Trish and Miranda were in Sioux City this past weekend for the NAIA Volleyball tournament, and since I hadn't seen Trish in over a year, we met for lunch.

While I made sure to point out to Miranda that she had herself a little Kansas/Missouri accent of her own, I had to admit that she was right.

My dad has been giving me crap about my Minn-uh-soooh-tuh accent for years. I don't notice it, and it pains me to think I sound like they do, but alas, I've lived her for 12 years now...sigh...I caught the funny accent.

At least a few times a year, I'll catch myself talking on the phone with my dad, and the accent sneaks out. I'll quickly finish my statement with a good "Yeah, and it's aboot time to go skay-tin' dare soon."

I'm sure if I lived in Texas, I'd start saying "y'all" and call every pop a "Coke."

But show me where a movie was made making fun of the Texas accent.

Nothing like what "Fargo" did for Minnesota. (If you ever want to piss off a native Minnesotan, tell them they sound like the characters in "Fargo"). "Oh, geez, Marge, we don't sound like that!"

But yes, I don't say "snow," I say "Snoowwwh."

I don't say "lake," I say "Layyyyke."

And don't get me started on the Tundra pronunciation of "bagel."

But my new accent comes in handy when my Hawkeyes play the Gophers. I'm able to appropriately mock the world's longest spelling bee cheer, which would be the end to the Minnesota Rouser.

But until I'm paroled from The Tundra (7 years, 7 months and 16 days, approximately, unless I'm released early for good behavior), I'll just keep speaking my Canada Lite accent!

In the meantime, let me know if you wanna play some duck, duck, gray duck, or if you need me to borrow you something! Yeah, sure, youbetcha! Uff da!