Archive | January 2013

Is it just me?

I love to read. As a college student, when I find the time to read (for enjoyment), it’s my escape, but lately, I feel like I’ve been too judgmental of the books I’ve read as well as the movies I’ve watched.

Here’s the thing: I am so tired of the same old story. Girl meets boy (or boy meets girl), girl and boy start to fall for each other, but uh oh! Something happens but they still and up living happily ever after. It seems that EVERYTHING that I’ve read or watched lately has had that same outcome, and I’m just like, “Grrrr!!” But here’s the other thing, when it seems like the couple isn’t going to get back together, I start freaking out. When I watches The Vow, I was like, “No no no no no! She HAS to remember him! It canNOT end like that!” but I think that was more because it was based on real events and it’s nice to are happy endings in real life and not just in fiction. Anyway, yeah. I’m wishy-washy. Sue me!

With the way I’m feeling, I’m skeptical of everything that gets good reviews (on Goodreads) and I’m just kind of stuck–mainly, I just don’t know what book to read next. There are so many options, you know, and Idk even where to start looking. I just know that whatever I read next, I want it to be different, unlike anything I’ve ever read before that makes me wanna throw the book at the wall as well as never read another book (by that author) again. (When I read My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, that was my exact reaction. I told my mom I was never gonna read another book again, but I picked up Vanishing Acts a day and a half later. I torture myself.)

So I’m wondering: is it just me?

Why care?

(I started this post nearly  two weeks ago. I just couldn’t find the right words to finish it.)

One of the books I’m reading for class is called One Nation, Underprivileged: Why American Poverty Affects Us All by Mark Robert Rank, and one of the questions he posed in the book is: Why care? Why should we, as possible working lower-middle class people all the way up capitalists, care about the impoverished? Why should we care about people in poverty when ” it’s their fault they’re there anyway”?

Rank went on to give his answers as to why he thinks we should care, but before I tell you what he said, think about it yourself. If you’re lucky enough to be living a comfortable life, only sometimes struggling to pay bills on time, but otherwise don’t really have any issues (economically), then why should you care about people who struggle to make ends meet when it doesn’t interfere with your life any?

For me, it just seems like the right thing to do. I can’t say that I’ve been raised to be the next Mother Theresa, but I can say that I was raised to treat all human beings with respect (even if I may not think they deserve it). With that comes The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would want others to do unto you.” Think about it. If you were down on your luck, working a job that paid less than minimum having to take care of yourself and maybe someone else, would you want someone to kick dirt in your face or lend a helping hand?

Now you may be thinking, “Well, that’s never going to happen to me,” and/or, “Most people are poor because of their own doing,” both which are not necessarily true. According to Rank, for the majority of American adults, the question is not whether they will experience poverty, but when. It may be short lived, but it happens, and it’s a likely possibility that one may slip into poverty again throughout their adulthood if they’ve already experienced poverty. And as far as people being poor because of something they have personally done, what about those born into poverty? 35% of the poor in America are under the age of 18, and they generally stay poor because they don’t know any other way and they’re not given the opportunity to take themselves out of that situation.

We say that the United States is the, “Land of the American Dream,” but how realistic is that? When you look at the stories of people who say that are the epitome of the American Dream, they often didn’t start from absolutely nothing. The American Dream is appealing to almost anyone trying to make something of themselves, but more times than not, diligence and perseverance isn’t enough. You also have to have the resources, but adding that last little detail makes the American Dream more unrealistic and less appealing, and as an opportunistic country, we can’t have that.

But back to what Rank was saying. According to Rank, the nonpoor should care about the poor out of self-interest, because it follows from Judeo-Christian values, and it is a shared responsibility. Examples? It’s in the nonpoor’s self-interest to care about the poor because the nonpoor often have to compensate for what the poor can’t afford. Take, for example, healthcare. Most poor people don’t have healthcare because they can’t afford it, and the US doesn’t provide universal healthcare. Patterns have shown that when a poor person has a medical problem, they often turn towards the emergency room, but because they don’t have the insurance to pay, the cost is absorbed by hiking up healthcare premiums which those who can afford it, end up paying. Also, children from poor homes don’t have the same educational opportunities as children from higher income families, and as a result of the lack of resources, most students won’t have the skills required to enter the workforce as an efficient employee, being their primary option seeing as they don’t have the money and/or meet the requirements to attend college. However, while the evidence presented makes a persuasive case, there are qualified workers somewhere to fill positions and resources available to help poor mothers, so the self-interest argument doesn’t have a strong standing.

Rank continues on to argue that many Americans believe in the Judeo-Christian ethic, much of which advocates in helping thy neighbor. A number of reoccurring themes appear throughout the Old Testament which encourage us to give and assist the poor, additionally stating that those who are neglectful towards the poor will suffer God’s wrath. Proverbs 21.13 states, “If you close your ear to the cry of the poor, you will cry out and not be heard.” The New Testament reflects many of the same views of the Old Testament, telling the story of Jesus Christ, a humble carpenter, which further emphasizes the message that the poor are blessed in the eyes of the Lord. This also makes a pretty convincing argument to Christians and others who are religiously affiliated, but with more than 15% of the US population not religiously associated, why should they care?

Lastly, Rank argues that poverty is a shared responsibility of all US citizens, saying that poverty is not the outcome of one individual’s behavior but rather “the result of structural failings within the US economic and political systems.” With nearly 50% of the current poor in America being either under the age of eighteen or sixty-five or older, it’s easy to see that poverty isn’t the sole result of an individual’s doing or lack thereof. We can see this in the case of unemployment. The United States, obviously, doesn’t want its unemployment to get too high—the result being lower production rates, little to no income for individuals, therefore less spending and less revenue for the country. On the other hand, the US doesn’t want unemployment to get too low, to fall below a “natural unemployment rate.” If that were to occur, employers would no longer be able to hire your average Jane or Joe; they would need to attract and hire qualified workers by offering more benefits, consequently resulting in inflation—the more an employer has to spend, the more an employer needs to make. It is a win-lose situation for some people. If consumers are to reap the benefit of low prices, a certain percentage of people need to remain unemployed as well as work for low wages. In this case, it may not necessarily be the fault of the individual if they aren’t working or if they aren’t making the kind of money they need to support themselves and their family.

Undeniably, Rank has made some great points, but it doesn’t really mean much if his message is only reaching a limited audience. If I wasn’t reading this book for class, I’m not going to say that I would have never picked up this book, but there’s a really good chance that I wouldn’t have. It seems to be that today we live in a country where people care more about their cars and their cell phones than they do about the life of another human being. Most people tend to be so caught up in the “me”, they forget to care about the “we”, and in that we’ve lost our compassion for others, if we ever had any at all.

So Rank said gave his reason. I gave my piece, so now I’m asking you: Why care?

NBC’s “Smash”

NBC’s Smash is like an adult version of Glee because singing and dancing is apparently what people like these days. Glee has been fairly successful since it premiered in 2009/2010. ABC just introduced Nashville which I heard is a hit, and then there are all these reality TV shows like So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, Dance Moms, The X Factor, etc. With the success of most of these shows, it is no surprise that NBC would pick up a musical of their own.

Season 1 of Smash follows the life of newcomer and waitress Karen Cartwright (Katherine McPhee) on her quest to make a name for herself on the New York Broadway scene. She auditions for a work in progress of a Broadway show about the life of Marilyn Monroe, gets a callback, and so it all begins. The rest of show follows Karen and her relationships between her boyfriend Dev Sundaram (Raza Jaffery) and her competition Ivy Lynn (Megan Hilty) who also got a callback for Marilyn and has the experience on the Broadway show as a member of the chorus/ensemble of Heaven on Earth. The show also follows the lives of Julia Houston (Debra Messing) and Tom Levitt (Christian Borle), the writer and songwriter of the Marilyn production, as well as Eileen Rand (Anjelica Huston), the producer, and director Derek Wills (Jack Davenport) with celebrity guest appearances from Nick Jonas, Ryan Tedder, and Uma Thurman. (I believe Jennifer Hudson is joining the show for season two).

I watched the first season, which was fifteen episodes, in the last three days, and I kind of loved it. I think I fell in love a little bit with Debra Messing . . . As the show unfolded, you keep seeing all these good things happen to/for Karen and all these not so good things happen to Ivy, and that’s really the point of this post. Karen Cartwright is the definition of a sweetheart. She is SUCH a nice person, and that’s not something you see often on TV anymore. Even Ms. Rachel Berry pulled out her claws a few times before going off to New York to ensure that she stayed on top, but Karen (aka Iowa) is SO genuine. I don’t know if that’s the way the character was purposefully written or because she hasn’t been in New York long enough to let it corrupt her, but whatever the reason, Iowa seems to be the epitome of Good things happen to good people. And the opposite can be applied to Ivy. She tried to sleep and connive her way to the top and ended up not getting what she truly wanted.

I’ll admit, Karen’s character does get a little annoying from time to time, mainly because she is so sweet. She never sticks up for herself, but that seems to be changing in season 2 (premiering on February 5th). Needless to say, I am excited! We’ll see if Little Miss Iowa has what it takes to survive the catty, ruthless, and vindictive competition of New York Broadway.

New Semester, New Beginnings

Two days into the semester and I’ve already partially changed my major and kind of broke my computer. It’s off to a good start!

As it is, I’ve never really know what I’ve wanted to do with my life. Of course, when we’re younger we all want to do everything; we have big dreams and aspirations–PotUS, doctor, firefighter, astronaut, police(wo)man, etc. I think that when I was in first grade I just wanted to be a stay-at-home mom/wife. My teacher had gotten pregnant when I was in first grade, and from then on.out, I just wanted a baby. That lasted all of five minutes; you know how kids have that natural ADD …

Anyhow, when I was in the fifth grade, I wanted to be a rocket scientist. (Needless to say, I watched waaayy too much Jimmy Neutron.) When I was in seventh grade, I wanted to be a fashion designer (though most people would say that I had/have no fashion sense). In tenth grade, I wanted to be a chemical engineer, but then I took AP Chemistry. Before I graduated, I wanted to go to college to major in Creative Writing, but my dad kept talking in that tone that indicated that he was going to respect my wishes but wouldn’t be happy about it.

But, as usual, that’s not the point. As of right now, I am taking three classes (a total of 1.5 credits) because I dropped my two math classes because I’m dropping my specification (math) and becoming solely an Education Studies major, and if I have enough time, possibly pick up a Sociology or Child & Family Studies minor, possibly. I did want to be a math teacher, but 1. I just couldn’t keep up, and 2. It got to the point where I was taking these classes because it was what I had to do and not what I wanted to do. So, I think I’m in a good place, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Pinterest

Pinterest

Pinterest is an unhealthy obsession of mine, but I think my boards give a pretty accurate representation of who I am. If you don’t like what you see there, you probably won’t like what you read here. 

Back to the Future

Before I even start, I’d just like you to know that this has nothing to do with the movie, so sorry if my post heading is misleading.

First, I guess I should say: Hi. My name is Janelle Terry. I am twenty years old.  I am a college junior/senior, and I don’t really know what I want to do with my life. I know that’s nothing huge; I would imagine that I am in a league with many, but . . . I’m getting ahead of myself.

As of currently, I am pursuing a Mathematics and Education double major at the college that I attend, training to become a secondary high school math teacher. The classes that I have to take for the Mathematics portion are not going so well. I needed to pass the class that I took last semester with a B, but I passed it with a C. My professor told me that I while I was home over break (which is about to end), I needed to think about what I wanted to do and come back to school and meet with my secondary advisor. So here I am, about to head back to school and have no idea what I need to do or where I’m heading two and half years into my college career. I feel like I should be freaking out a little bit more, but I just can’t bring myself to freak out because even though I want to teach math, it’s not my one and only, if that makes sense.

While I’ve been home over break, I’ve been talking to friends and just thinking about how this whole college system is set up. Depending on what you choose to do or just the factors that affect your life, you either enter college right after high school or you go back later. (The college I attend has a crap load of non-traditional students who are like thirty and up with kids and commute to and from campus.) You spend the next two to four years of your life pursuing a specific degree, and then you have the option of continuing two to six more years to earn another degree. Once you’re finished with your schooling, you’re pretty much expected to work in your specialty–whatever you earned your degree in–for the rest of your life, and personally, I think that sucks. Of course, you don’t want someone who’s not educated in a certain area to work in that specific field, you know? Even though Patrick Dempsey plays and extremely handsome doctor on television, I wouldn’t personally want him to operate on me. He can just continue making movies and looking beautiful . . .

As I was saying, basically, you go to school, you go to work, and you die. That seems to be life for most people. Of course, you always have the option of going back to school, but not everyone has the time or the money, especially with the rising cost of postsecondary education nowadays. I wouldn’t be going to school if I didn’t have a scholarship because my family is broke as a joke, so I’ve got to get it right this time around because I most likely won’t have the option of going back to school. Or at least, not anytime soon. Which kind of brings me back to the fact that I don’t want to be stuck doing one thing for the next twenty years of my life. I was telling a friend of mine that if I could switch jobs every five to seven years, I would, but I can’t. Because that would be another two to four years and some thousands of dollars that I don’t have to go back to school to receive another degree. 

(I know I’m sitting here complaining about what I have and what I want but can’t have instead of being grateful for what I do have and what I’ve been blessed with. I am grateful, truly, that I am able to get a college education, and practically for free, but . . . I’m going to finish up outside this parentheses.)

I guess what I’m trying to get at is that, now that my plan is kind of falling apart, I’m being forced to look back at my future and ask myself where do I see myself after college or in five years or in ten years, and honestly, I don’t know anymore. I would still like to teach; I like knowing that I have the ability to help someone overcome a challenge that they’re facing, whether that be academic or not. I like working with teenagers/young adults, and I think it would be awesome to make a career out of it. However, my according to the college that I’m attending, I’m not qualified, and that’s okay. I’ve generally always succeeded at things I’ve tried, but this doesn’t happen to be one of those cases. And now that I’m kind of being forced to think about what I really want to do, I’m not so sure that high school math teacher was the right choice for me. I do think that I have come to this conclusion because I’m not doing so well, but . . . Being a teacher made sense to me. I’ve always been a tutor; I’ve always been good at helping people with/through situations. I consider myself a pretty rational person/thinker, and like I said, I like working with teenagers. However, after having thought about it, I know that being a teacher isn’t the only option I have for wanting to do what I want to do–for wanting to work with teenagers and help them figure out who they are and what they want to do.

I would really like to work as a director of an Upward Bound program, or to work with organizations with the same goal. I was an Upward Bound graduate and employee, and both experiences were–not to sound too cliche–life changing for me. I feel like the program gave so much to me, and that the least that I could do is give back to it. 

And I think that’s about it. Even if it’s not, it’s enough. It’s almost 5:00 am, and I’ve written way too much. If you actually read this thing, thanks, and I promise that further posts won’t be as ridiculously long or whiny. (:

– Janelle