Saturday, July 16, 2011

Susmita Paria - Being Yourself

Right since my childhood, mom always enrolled me in various extra-curricular activities be it swimming, Indian classical dance, playing the keyboard, calligraphy classes et al. I never complained for I enjoyed being engaged in some or the other activities. It gave a purpose to look forward to that particular day, to learn something new, to be better than others and to learn something that others didn't know! Over the years I learned how-to dance, swim, paint and, in short, find happiness at being engaged in these activities. They shaped the way I am, the way I conduct my self, the way I see myself for I know "how-to" do a lot of things.

Unfortunately, I have met people or rather parents who force their child to learn to do many things be it how to cook, how to play guitar or how to be better than others and burden them with loads of expectations that they have to meet. The parents should understand that everyone is an individual entity, each one having distinct, unique characteristics and child is special in their own way. It is not correct to fulfill their dreams and expectations by using their child as a medium.

As we grow up, life throws some rhetorical, never said questions at us which further comes in the way of "how to be yourself." How to be an ideal daughter, wife, woman, sister, friend and how to be ideal in society only increases the pressure on us. The society has certain perceptions about everyone and anybody going against those perception is not respected or looked up to!..Our actions, speech and movement are closely watched by everyone and the end result might be that a person behaving as opposed to his/her natural conduct of life. In short and simpler words "being fake." So who is at fault??..society, friends, peers, colleagues..?

There's no definite answer as each and every individual have different perspectives, like to be and are different. The mantra is to have immense trust in yourself, to love yourself the way you are, to be positive about yourself and receive and give positive vibes. Life is simple, but our actions, thoughts, and approaches to situations make it more complex. I wish one day not few but all of us live, behave, and speak the way we want to and not get burdened simply by the two words: "how-to"

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Debra Crosslin - How to Take a Compliment

One of the hardest words for me to say is, "thank-you." So I had to learn "How To Take a Compliment."
Let me break this down in a way that makes it easy. Maybe you can relate.

A compliment is a form of sincerity and admiration. For example: Somebody may say, "Wendy, your new outfit looks great on you." Just say "thank-you" and smile. Simple stupid! Practice makes perfect and saying something nice to other people helps too.

I used to say, embarrassed and looking down on the floor, "No, not me, this old thing." Or "Awe shucks." Or blush and sigh in utter disdain and actually say nothing. Nobody wants that kind of attention.

What if somebody you like a lot says, "Mary you are so beautiful!" You used to say, angrily, "No, I am ugly. You are crazy." Thinking what does this person want from me? "Liar!"

What if you think you were amazing or did something amazingly great. Nobody says, "Wow! You are amazing." "That was a great performance." You get zero, nada. Or maybe somebody says, "You suck." "Just who in the hell do you think you are?" Now you are hurt and feel like somebody popped your balloon. Turning away, not wanting them to see the tears in your eyes, you walk quickly away.

Professionally, you can either give up or you hold your head up high and continue. You can even say, "Fuck you asshole." I think it is better to just laugh in their face. People are ignorant. They may be jealous or intimidated by you. It makes them feel better about themselves.

The problem is you may have been verbally abused growing up. An example is an insecure parent sees their child happily dancing and singing. Maybe mom or dad is tired or hung over from a night of heavy drinking. They can't stand the noise, it gives them a worse headache than they already have. So they yell at this innocent child and say, "Stop it you little fool. You are a terrible singer and you dance like a clown. Now get your ugly face away from me before I slap the shit out of you!"

Boom! This beautiful child may never dance or sing again. The sad part is she or he really can sing or dance. It is too late. The damage is done.

So say, "thank-you" for a sincere compliment. Just forget about the darkness, be positive. Remember life is dynamic, not static. Like the old song says, "Ooh, ooh child things are gonna get easier. Ooh, ooh child things well get brighter. Someday, yeah, we'll get it together and we'll get it undone Someday the world will get lighter." The lesson here is be careful of your words and actions. Love one another.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Scott Joel Gizicki - How to Walk

I remember when I was in college looking through what courses could count towards my Phys. Ed. general requirements and I laughed at the walking class they offered. I'm not laughing anymore. Coming from someone who is strictly a pedestrian - people don't know how to walk! OK, of course not all people, but there's a large majority out here that need to abide by these rules.

1. Look Up
-Pretty self-explanatory. So many people walk looking down or side to side or even at their cell phone. While I'm incredibly guilty of the last one, I still manage to keep looking up and stay vigilant. You never know who or what you may run into, which does bring me into the next rule.

2. Pick a Side and Stick to It
-This is especially aggravating when there's only one person in front of you that you need to pass. There are so many walkers out there that do not realize they sway when they walk. You need to imagine sidewalk as having dashed lines much like the road. You cannot be moving in and out of these imaginary lanes. Not only is it annoying as shit but it's hazardous! What if I was one of these look downers and I don't realize you're suddenly in my lane? Boom! Collision!

3. Maintain Your Speed
-It really doesn't matter what speed you walk as long as you are also abiding by rules number 1 and 2. All I ask is to be mindful of your surroundings. Kindly let people walk by you if you're a slower walker and don't rudely push through crowds if you're faster. There is a real method of walking through bigger crowds safely and efficiently. This skill comes to great use especially when walking in areas that attract a lot of tourists.*

4. No Sudden Stops
-I get it. Sometimes while walking you need to stop whether it's to rest or to tie your shoe. Again, pay attention to your surroundings before stopping. This is so painstakingly annoying especially while attempting the inter-weaving in larger groups of slower walkers or when getting on and off of staircases, escalators, elevators and/or public transit. There are others behind you, so get to a safe and less crowded area before you suddenly stop.

5. Public Transit
-Aside from the above mentioned stopping as soon as you get off public transit, my worst pet peeve in this category applies especially to the trains. When you are getting ready to board a train, first pay notice to see if there are others trying to get off. This is made quite clear by the windows on the doors! It drives me cuckoo bananas to see a mob of people standing in front of the doors creating an obstacle to get to the stairs. Come on people, move! It's even worse when they try to walk in as people are exiting. Oh! Another thing that drives me crazy is more applicable to the buses. When a bus driver asks you to move all the way back and fill in all the seats (especially when trying to make room for the elderly or handicapped) for Pete's sake just move back! It's not that daunting of a request!

These are five very simple rules that could make life for all foot-dwellers a hell of a lot easier. Please share and abide!

*Rules do not necessarily apply to tourists considering they've a lot to see and they are over-whelmed by all senses. However, it does not make tourists any more tolerable to be around.

Scott Joel Gizicki is just another one of those new Los Angeles residents that acts and enjoys writing as well. After being born and raised in Detroit, he finally made it 3,000 miles to the city he's always wanted to live in this past August. He hopes he can stand out from the crowd; at least a little bit.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Barbi Beckett - MG, Pinto, LTD

If my mother were to take a personality test, the results would read: Male, approximate age: fourteen.

This was evidenced in her knick knacks; a stuffed frog, whose red tipped phallus flopped out when you picked him up, a carved hand, whose erect middle finger wore her rings and a novelty strong man, who peed if you tried to lift him from the shelf. But nothing could set off my mother’s cackle like hearing her third grader tell a joke. Here’s one she taught me to perform for her friends:

Three sailors go into port. They are very excited to go see the whore who lives on the hill because they have heard she does nice things for sailors. The first sailor goes, gives her five dollars and returns with a BIG smile on his face. His friends ask, “What’d she do? What’d she do?” and he says, “Well, she sprayed whipped cream all over my dick and then she licked it off!” (We’re going to cut to the third sailor who gives her fifteen dollars, returns looking sad and explains -) “Well, first she sprayed whipped cream all over my dick and then she sprinkled nuts on it and put a cherry on top.” The other sailors all are, “Yeah, yeah and…?” and the third sailor says, “And, it looked so good I ate it myself.”

I bet you can hear the cackle from there.

Still, my dad never objected (that I knew of) when she would come whisk me away on a road trip. Even if he had, it wouldn’t have mattered; I worshipped her and my life centered around her visits. In the car we’d listen to the same 8-track tapes over and over. I belted all of the words to House of the Raising Sun (Dolly Parton’s version) but when Helen Reddy sang You And Me Against The World, I just sat and tried to hold my shit together. I never succeeded though; Toward the end of the song, I always had my head cranked to the right, pretending to look out the window so she wouldn’t see my wet face. Of course, by the time the little girl voice said, “I love you, mommy” and Helen Reddy said, “I love you too, baby” the snot was flowing, so, she knew. That’s probably why she played it so much.

My mom would drive until it was long dark, then she’d pull over, fold down the Pinto’s rear seats and we’d snuggle up for the night. I loved seeing where we were in the morning, as the terrain would have changed since the last daylight. We’d get out to stretch and pee in the bushes or tumbleweeds then head to a convenience store for breakfast. The meals were one of the best parts of spending time with my mom. Breakfast was Dr. Pepper with Hostess Chocolate Cupcakes. Lunch was Dr. Pepper with bread and peanut butter (you’da thought she’d discovered a scientific phenomenon the way she went on about how easy it was to spread peanut butter when it got hot in the car) and dinner varied, except for the Dr. Pepper.

Occasionally we’d stay at a very cheap hotel and have dinner in a restaurant with the money my dad had given her for my share of the trip. I preferred the car though. At one hotel I asked my mom, “What’s this dark sticky stuff on the bathroom door?” She glanced over and said, “Probably blood.”

When I was in middle school I took a cross country drive with my mom and her third (and fourth, same guy) husband. We drove from El Paso to New York City then down to Biloxi, where the husband got on a plane bound for Greenland. When he wasn’t being an angry drunk he was all right, I guess. He didn’t necessarily have anything to say to me and I definitely felt like a visitor in his back seat, but at least he had the couth to push her chubby hand away when it started riding too high on his stout thigh in the front seat. Also, when I was five, I once kissed him goodbye and stuck my tongue in his mouth, as I’d seen her do. He got upset and told on me. That marked class.

When we finally reached Biloxi we stayed overnight in the barracks of the Air Force base he’d be flying out of. We washed up in the shared bathroom down the hall from our room, which was fine because there was no one else around. My mom and Number Three got the queen bed and I had a twin about four feet away. Less than five minutes after lights out, the whispers and foreplay began. Unfortunately, the pair were perfectly silhouetted, so I was soon treated to the scarring image of a corpulent incubus aloft a rotund succubus, fat legs on high.

Feeling desperate, I got out of bed and fled to the latrine, knowing the room door would lock behind me and they’d have to stop to let me back in. I hung out for a while, pacing along the sinks under bright fluorescent light. Finally, I went back and knocked. Someone opened the door; I didn’t care who. I got in my bed and was relieved to hear the apparition snoring. I bet for another thirty bucks they could have scored two rooms. My dad definitely would have sprung for that.

In the morning they pretended nothing had happened so I made a joke about seeing a moaning ghost hovering in their bed. She cackled, he was embarrassed and humiliated. If you know which is the appropriate response, you’re not my mother. If you have a realistic sense of how long it takes a person to fall asleep, you’re neither one of those chumps.

When I was twenty my mother and I took our final road trip together. Not final because she died, but final because I couldn’t stand her anymore. The only reason I went was because she was heading to Portland, Oregon to track down her oldest son and I wanted to see my boyfriend in Seattle. Plus she had money to burn from her most recent divorce (from Number Five) so she was paying. It hadn’t entirely occurred to me that my big brother, who hadn’t spoken to his mom for over ten years, might not be thrilled to hear from us. I was the only one from our family that he’d invited to his wedding six years before but even I’d lost touch with him. We pulled into Portland at night and she made me call him from a payphone. I’d begun to wonder if leaving all of us was the only way he felt he could get away from her. I suddenly knew it, though, when we pulled up to the address he gave me and I saw his figure sitting on a step in the dark. I felt the weight of the phone call he’d just received. I felt guilty and wished I could turn the car around, turn the clock back an hour and leave him in the relative peace of his life away. I do believe that the return of my mother into his world marked the onset of that brother’s decline.

My brother and sister-in-law were gracious and my mother over-stayed our welcome. Two weeks later we headed back to El Paso after my brother convinced me to go home, pack up and move to Portland. His mom had decided to move there too so, inevitably, she and I would be roommates. I would share a roof with my mother for the first time since I was four years old.

Our drive back to El Paso did not bode well for the impending living arrangement. I was so out of my head miserable by the time we reached Vegas that she had put me on a plane. The ticket was funded by my dad, who understood the importance of getting the hell away from her. In that same vein, Pop would, four months later, fully support me in moving to Seattle from Portland to shack up with my black boyfriend out of wedlock.

Tragically without clue, my mother has managed to drive everyone away, some to other realms. My dad (Number Two) used to nurse my mommy-wounds with, “Don’t worry, sweetheart, she’ll get hers; What goes around comes around.” And other stale chestnuts. But, as I knew at the time, a sick, scared and lonely old woman in the final scene, does not give good schadenfreude, not in theory, and not in reality.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Scott Joel Gizicki - Memory Lane

Isn't it amazing how one little thing can take you back to what sometimes feels like a life time ago? For example, whenever I wash dishes and I get to washing knives I think of my father. I had to have been real young, but as a kid I loved doing the dishes. I used to pull a chair in front of the sink and kneel down on it and wash away. There was one time in particular that my Dad came into the kitchen as I was scrubbing away. He told me he wanted to see how I washed a knife. He did this to ensure that I was indeed safely cleaning the utensil. I held on to the handle as I safely soaped up the blade with the sponge and my father was glad I was knew what I was doing. I distinctly remember thinking to myself that I was going to show him even further how good I am. I then touched a safe part of the blade and began scrubbing the handle to clean that as well. Dad of course told me not to do that because I could hurt myself. I remember feeling this disappointment that my over-zealous actions did not impress my father. Looking back now, I know that he wasn't upset but just looking out for his youngest. It's funny the things we hold on to from childhood.

Another icon that puts me into time travel mode are packets of condiments like mustard or ketchup. This story also involves pulling the chair up to the sink. I recall always wanting to squeeze one of those packets until it exploded. Well, on this particular day mustard was my drug of choice, but I knew well enough to try and prepare for a messy clean up. Over that sink I kept squeezing when "SQUIRT!" The mustard shot right up in my eye. I love that I can take trips like that all throughout my day. Such as when I walk into 7-11 to purchase their incredibly delicious Monterey Jack Chicken Toquitos and spot the FunDip candy (formerly known as Lik-A-Maid) I can't help but think of eating that with my mother as a young child. She never liked the Marshmallow-flavored Lik-A-Stiks used for dipping, so I'd wait in anticipation for her to pass them off to me.

These little trips that we get to take are so incredibly precious. It reminds us of where we came from. There are of course those little trips that remind us of more embarrassing times. In my Junior year of high school, I along with two other friends dressed up as the Three Blind Mice for Halloween. Subsequently, the children's nursery rhyme will always transport me to my lunch period that day when I tripped on absolutely nothing causing my food to splatter on the floor along with myself. Thankfully I was in costume, so I announced to the gazing eyes and chuckling laughter around me that I was only playing the part. Even if my face gets a bit red recalling that graceful moment in the history of Scott, it's still so vitally important because it is in my history.

Everything that has happened in my life has built who I am today. Without it, I would have never written this albeit late entry for WWW. I also wouldn't be that person that is so proud to be me, either. So, every time I find myself washing another knife, I smile and say to myself, "Look, Dad, I'm washing it right." I know he smiles back at me and says, "Great job, son." It's the little things that keep us connected to ourselves and maintain our humanity. I urge all of you to allow yourself those little trips down Memory Lane. You may be pleasantly surprised or blind-sided with embarrassment but either way it can keep you on track to reach your next destination in life.

Scott Joel Gizicki is just another one of those new Los Angeles residents that acts and enjoys writing as well. After being born and raised in Detroit, he finally made it 3,000 miles to the city he's always wanted to live in this past August. He hopes he can stand out from the crowd; at least a little bit.