Saturday, September 28, 2013

Text Message Rant & September Reads

It’s Saturday and I’m off work!  WHOOT!  One day--real soon--all Saturdays will be like this.  At least in the context of me making money doing something I actually love to do and not being tied down to making money for someone else’s grand business.  With that aside, I’m happy to have the interest of several people reaching out to me these past weeks.  A few commission ideas have crossed my path, and now is the perfect time to get started on a few new projects.  Nevertheless, before September closes I want to do a blog post featuring my September reads.  Accompanying the post is a new video detailing these reads and my view on them.  However, a small text message rant introduces the video, so beware of language.  It was unavoidable, seeing that have yet to practice editing videos.  Nevertheless, let’s commence.

The books:

1.  A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki  

2.  When the Night Whispers by Savanna Welles

3.  Voodoo Season by Jewell Rhodes Parker

4.  W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton

5.  The Shining by Stephen King

6.  Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

7.  Deadline by Sandra Brown

8.  Sailor Moon Short Stories Volume 1 by Naoko Takeuchi


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Subjective Term? Literary Masterpieces?

I remember a literature teacher asking the class what makes a literary masterpiece.  Of course the class had to write and share an essay on the topic.  At the time I simply thought the answer lie in how well a piece of popular literature is written.  As well as how popular some generation of culture and society thought it as, placing it on a pedestal for whatever determined reasoning.  However, I later learned that it remains a subjective topic.  What I may consider a masterpiece may differ from another's thoughts on the same subject.  And all too often I don't even use the term "masterpiece".

Nevertheless, I'd like to share a few of my thoughts.  Many literary masterpieces gather critiques as either presenting lackluster material, or the complete opposite, over-enthused writing.  Therefore, there are several combined elements that may “constitute” a pleasant reading experience, or a dull one.  As an author’s style and syntax continues to be the defining factor in a reader’s experience, other essential ingredients determine how well the message of the novel obtains reception, ingredients that work in conjunction with an author’s choice of words.  This combination of properly used elements helps the reader appreciate the context of a literary masterpiece.  
The Joy Luck Club.  I would consider it a masterpiece.

Long passages of description often cause readers to skim text, missing quality pieces of an author’s message.  Many times description merges with narrative, making it difficult for readers to separate the two.  However, description has the tendency to imply itself throughout a novel, whereas narrative has a way of giving character (often character specific) to a novel, essentially presenting itself as a secondary role in the process.  A character’s role in the pleasantness or dullness of a literary masterpiece brings success to the experience if the character creates speculation within the reader.  Characters that appear predictable to readers may become to contrive to drive a literary masterpiece, as readers are looking to explore the setting within someone he or she can identify with or grow to identify.  A careful balance of inner and outer character statements contributes to a well written literary masterpiece, as character statements create speculation of the character’s actions throughout each manner.

Characters use dialogue to relate their terms to a real life translation for readers.  As many readers skip through narrative and description, it becomes dialogue that catches the reader’s knowledge of the novel’s presence and direction.  Much of this has to do with how text appears on a page, as dialogue tends to be “easy on the eyes.”  However, dialogue is not the absolute to a literary masterpiece, as much of the message infuses into the reader’s ability to visualize the setting and inner monologue of the available characters.  This requires structure, as authors who produce literary masterpieces must maintain a balance of dialogue, narrative, and description to bring pleasure to many readers’ experience.  Character structure allows the information of a novel to become clearer while bringing passion throughout the reading and analysis.  Messages readers receives from a novel is through each passage or piece of dialogue.  It's here that we search for powerful passages to evoke our emotions, not so much to spend time decoding an author‘s material. 

Many find word choices and their meaning brings the biggest appreciation into literary masterpieces.  Though description, character, dialogue, and structure are powerful characteristics that attribute to what an author should focus on when creating a literary masterpiece, these elements are just as important in an author who chooses to explore in other genres of fiction.  Literary masterpieces become important because of the words and meaning they evoke in readers.  Because of this they explore social and personal changes.  Modern contemporary authors like Amy Tan [The Joy Luck Club] and Toni Morrison [Beloved] introduced literary masterpieces that unveil the complexity of what it means to be of an ethnic minority [Chinese, Chinese-American; African, African-American].  Then authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald [The Great Gatsby] provided a glimpse into his concerns about the corruption of the American dream.  An author such as Ralph Ellison [Invisible Man] attacks both social issues and individual conflict within many of his novels.  Then classic masterpiece of Oedipus the King [Sophocles] asks readers to question their purpose in life in modern times.  

With an author’s use of word choice and meaning, his or her messages become striking and clear.  Not understanding the careful use of the two sometimes fails an author.  There are moments when an author does not fully understanding the meaning of a word and uses it.  Granted, a single word can have multiple meanings, but literary masterpieces must use words that remain in the context of the passage.  The message obtains clarity this way because with words used properly in the context of the text, there are no alternatives for the reader to misplace its meaning.  Nevertheless, there are abstract attempts at words designed to further the reader’s contemplation of the material, but a careful use will drive the text to its clarifying end.  Possessing a strong vocabulary (combined with imagination) to draw from authenticates (as well as distinguish) an author’s voice and ability to drawing meaning from his or her masterpiece.  Operating consciously or unconsciously, the arrangement of an author’s word choice takes intuition and observation.  An author who writes to challenge a reader’s personal beliefs or social conditioning takes the advantage by introducing words, meaning, and context.  This careful use supports his or her argument for change, or insight into other cultures and ideas.

Whereas numerous elements such as character, dialogue, narrative, and description goes into creating powerful pieces of literary works, those masterpieces that challenge readers with their use of words and meaning appear to generate cross-cultural conversations.  It is these words that contribute to the greatness of an author’s character, dialogue, narrative, descriptions, and use of metaphors.  Literary masterpieces are important in the sense that they often create changes in real life, just as they gather inspiration from a life in need of change and progression.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Totally Random: Sharing Some Crazy Metaphors

Something I love to do is eat up words and language; tubular pasta mixed with Pesto sauce.  Much of it clings uneaten to the corners of my unaware, child-like lips.  But I live in the chewing, even if I sometimes choke in the swallowing.  Nonetheless, it's about the taste of words and language, similar to the extra delight of Swiss cheese sliced before laying sweet on bread.  

Sometimes you study those sweet pieces, peeking through holes that you wish to have filled as you wonder if those holes of inconsistency actually attribute to the flavor.  So on occasions I snack on words and language incorrectly, like empty calories found in a grab bag of Halloween candy.  It can be that sweet to be so wrong.  

Once a writing teacher told me that my material was convoluted.  Was it because of my misuse of words?  It didn't matter.  I told her I loved words too much to hold back, thinking maybe she was a lazy reader.  I have acknowledged that my writing is often like a cosmic, excited sun climbing over wrung rain clouds.  It glares at streets filled with puddles.  It beams its damnedest to soak up every single drop, hoping each drop has absorbed a piece of the people walking along these streets.  Absorbed, I can then fill my stories with more convoluted lives.  As well as lies.

So then I smile and keep writing.
Your turn.  Be totally random.  Pick a certain topic and writing some crazy metaphors.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Manga Realness: "Eerie Queerie!" by Shuri Shiozu

Hi, everyone.  For those who are new to my blog, welcome.  For those returning, welcome back and thanks.  Should I tone down all the colors? (^_^)  

I made the--now titled--Comic Towel to create a space where I can promote my Zazzle store/drawings and my interest in literature, manga, and philosophies (some personal).  Sounds like a lot, but as I find myself delving into the materials that I love in each category, I can’t help but want to share and create conversations about them and how they relate to my life.  A side objective to that is to help motivate and inspire others by finding inspiration in all mediums.

With that said, I would like to find some of that inspiration in
Awkwardness of Mitsuo Shiozu
Manga Realness Number 3: Shuri Shiozu’s Eerie Queerie (the original Japanese title is Gosuto!, or Ghost!).  The English adaptation title of Eerie Queerie is more or less a play on the fact that this manga series is within the shonen-ai genre, or "Boy’s Love".  That’s Boy’s Love in the sense that it features gay characters/themes.  See, the story is about a cumbersome high school teen name Mitsuo Shiozu [uke].  His cumbersomeness isn’t pressed upon him simply because of the awkward stage we all face in high school.  No, Mitsuo just happens to be a spirit medium, meaning he communicates with the dead.  Therefore, he has every reason to be weird, soft, and many times over dramatic   He has a lot to deal with besides crushing over boys--or hiding it, rather.  Undoubtedly, the paranormal aspect drew me into the four-volume series as it appease to my love of Japanese kwaidan stories.  Of course in a severely cutesy, melodramatic manga-style fashion.  Naturally, there are better manga featuring stories of the occult and paranormal, but Eerie Queerie! ranks a little differently with its shonen-ai elements.

The Handsomely Dedicated, Hasunuma
The problem Mitsuo finds himself in lies in his ability to become possessed by the ghost that he runs across.  Usually, they are female.  And usually, they uphold a somewhat unrequited love of a certain male classmate.  Tucked within Mitsuo’s body, these ghost seek the returning affection of those who’ve obtained their attention in life.  This leads to further awkwardness and a pattern of misunderstandings that creates a love triangle between Mitsuo and the popular boy in school, Hasunuma [seme].  The third piece of the triangle belongs to the neatly handsome, Ichi.  With the romantic stage set, the battle for Mitsuo’s affections commences through this winding series of miscommunication, bad intentions, hidden secrets, and desperate apparitions.  The crux of much of Hasunuma and Ichi’s intent is to both love and protect Mitsuo.  Which also fuels Mitsuo’s desire to strengthen himself from the weedy boy he started as?  

So will Mitsuo allow one of the boys in?  Will he gain the change that
The Competition, Ichi
he seeks in himself?  It’s all whimsical, comedic entertainment at its best.  However, the magnetism of watching your archetypal bad boy (in this case, Hasunuma) fall for the likes of Mitsuo is just too sweet to turn away.  Mainly because we see it all the time in conventional romance stories where the bad boy is reformed through the admiration of the good girl.  In essence, there isn't much differences in any budding relationships, despite the sex of the partners.  This, and the slow pace of love taken in this series, is the reason I loved Eerie Queerie!

Small Japanese vocabulary lesson in concerns to shonen-ai/yaoi genres...

The Uke and the Seme.  Guess who is which?
A uke character is normally described as the fail, feminine character in the dynamics of the male-male relationship.  The seme character is the opposite.  He is the moody, brawny character that often is overprotective of his uke.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

A Glimpse into Daniel Black’s "Perfect Peace"

"Gracie left, convinced that Mae Helen would die before Emma Jean saw her again.  Still, she was glad she had tried.  A child's hurt obviously evolves into an adult's resentment, she told herself, so after years of abuse, the possibility that Emma Jean might forgive and forget was a virtual impossibility.  Maybe she should have fought more directly for Emma Jean when they were children, Gracie considered, but what could she do about that now?  Even if she apologized, which she felt she'd done, Emma Jean's pain wouldn't decrease.  All Gracie knew to do was promise to love any child she birthed--even if, like Emma Jean, it was ugly."

Before I forget, this has to be pulled out of my “draft“ list and shared, especially after watching an amazing interview with the author on YouTube.  So I wanted to dust this work-in-progress off, share it with everyone, then let the video do the talking because what he says will blow the right mind away.  But first, in a way this passage is an extension of my Alice Walker post where I ask the questions revolving around parental guilt and our frustrating experiences finding purpose in our adult lives.  Maybe answers are here.  Please, enjoy.

Daniel Black a Perfect Peace

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Manga Realness: "Doubt!!" by Kaneyoshi Izumi

Here we are guys; readers and friends of Comic Towel.  Manga enthusiasts and those curious enough to take my loved titles as recommendations, I present to you Manga Realness Number Two: Kaneyoshi Izumi’s Doubt!!.  But first, this is not based on Yoshiki Tonogai's manga series with the same name.  

The New Ai Maekawa
Coming from my loathsome sessions plodding through the Peach Girl manga series (which I bailed out on), Doubt!! did a good job dissolving the growing weariness I gathered from reading about Japanese schoolgirls who allowed her peers to run over her.  Translated as “bullying”, the Japanese term ijime describes this type of behavior seen in many school-based manga stories.  Now that’s not to say there wasn’t a supply of this in the five volumes that make up the complete series of Doubt!!.  After all, it wouldn’t be a shojo manga series without melodrama, plaid skirts, sharp-jawed boys, love triangles, depraved ijime, and the misunderstood tanned student with duck lips.  Nevertheless, the more or less distinct difference is that the protagonist in Doubt!! was (or at least started out) a little more on my temperamental level when it comes to not accepting crap from others.

Will So's past break his relationship with Ai?
A six volume shojo series crossing Romance and Slice of Life, Doubt!! tells the school life story of Ai Maekawa, an overlooked junior high teen who turns her image around to begin an acknowledged, new life in high school.  Armed with a new haircut and pimple cream, this transformation jumps off the series after a small prologue recounts her last embarrassing moment in junior high.  Feeling a lot more confident in her looks, Ai enters high school with the admiring eyes of her peers.  In turn, she suddenly finds herself in the mix of two of the school’s popular boys, So Ichinose and Yuichiro Kato.  A seemingly over flirtive (another word I made up) womanizer with a sketchy background related to his childhood, So Ichinose literally scoops Ai up and hangs off her backside during the first chapter of their meeting.  Why?  Because she is new, cute, and prospective-looking to his limbido.  Alternatively, his best friend, Yuichiro Kato, hangs back to admire Ai from afar, while berating So for his overzealous flirting.  The boys are two sides of the same coin, and as the placidly cool Yuichiro grows feelings for Ai, and Ai grows feelings for So, So tackles the difficult task of keeping his checkered past out of sight and from drawing a line between him and Ai.  Meanwhile, Ai has to battle her own past, as figures from then emerge to wreck her sudden popularity and budding relationship with the boys.  This all befits the web of drama that makes up Doubt!!.  And it only gets juicier as each of their secrets are revealed.

Now, what hooked me to this series…

Does Yuichiro stand a chance with Ai?
Some can say that the determination for Ai’s transformation reinforces how girls cater to a cultural obsession with looks and social popularity.  However, to me, Ai changing her looks installed in her that she is worth more than she believed before.  She didn’t think she was cute.  She didn’t think she would ever get a boyfriend.  She didn’t think too much of herself.  Then she decided to move away from that frame of thinking and make a change.  Granted, it can appear shallow for her to believe that looks is the beginning of this inner and outer transformation; nonetheless, her doing so sparked a fighting spirit inside of her.  I don't know about you, but I've always admired individuals who can make a change and take charge of their lives.  Seriously, how many people can wake up and decide to do battle with their issues instead of feeling sorry for themselves?  That's why I liked Ai and dedicated myself to reading her story. 

Still, her story doesn't stop there because soon she has to defend her new attitude--which kept me further invested in her story. 

Ai's ijime became jealousy-driven once she reached high school.  The girls who did not know of Ai’s past chose to bully her because she was pretty and gained the attention of the most popular boys in school.  However, driven by the torture she experienced in junior high, as well as her will to remain consistent in separating herself from those experiences emotionally, Ai did not back down from this new misconception that her bullies formed about her.  After all, the fight from her previous slew of misconceptions built enough character to combat the other.

At one point a student expressed: “Pretty girls get everything handed to them.  You don’t know what life is really like.”  Instead of succumbing like during her past insecurities, Ai chooses to stand up (quite violently I must add) for herself under the realization that the ijime she faced in junior high has only changed.  While she is somewhat thankful to be labeled "pretty", it did not come easy.  Therefore, she sure as hell wasn't willing to let someone taunt her about something they knew nothing about in regards to her emotional struggles.  So the best thing for her to do was to shut it down before it started.  And that's what she did when she fought back for her respect.  

This resonated with my experience adjusting from junior high to high school.  Like Ai, it was this adjustment that let me know that I didn’t have to take crap from anyone else anymore, and that I wasn‘t so unattractive that I needed to lay in my own darkness.  What I believed for myself was exactly what I had a right to pursue.  I didn’t have to lie in my shell any longer because there was nothing wrong with being confident, loud, and even obnoxiously cheerful.  So take control of your life when you find it necessary.  You’re going to come across opposition of some sort any way.  Might as well attempt to make the best of yourself in the process.  Feed confidence into your emotional diet even if that means changing your looks.  And most of all, stop feeling sorry for yourself.  Give yourself some credit for moving through life itself.

If you could go back to junior high or high school, what would you do differently?

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

When the Night Whispers Review

“The more time she spent with Asa, the more she couldn’t remember what she’d told or not told her daughter.  Her days away from him seemed blurred and dull.  It seemed as if she forgot everything: the lyrics to songs she’d sung all her life, the titles of books she’d read twice.  She’d stick milk into cabinets and empty bowls into the refrigerator--like some poor soul with dementia, she thought.  It frightened her, this forgetfulness, but then she decided that his presence in her life overshadowed everything else."

I finally managed to obtain a copy of Savanna Welles’ book, When the Night Whispers.  Moved by the fact that Savanna Welles is a pen name to one of my favorite African-American mystery writers, Valerie Wilson Wesley, the need to read this book was undoubtedly paramount.  Nevertheless, I hesitated in ordering a copy after the book released in February.  Maybe I thought it wasn't as absorbing as Wesley’s Tamara Hayle Mysteries (where the last two books actually weren't).  Perhaps it was the synopsis, indicating Wesley’s switch to writing Gothic paranormal under her Welles pseudonym.  Still, as a loyal reader, I knew I was going to get to the book one day.  Finally I did.  I spent two days devouring the novel, but left with that “meh” feeling that kept me from rushing to purchase it in the first place.  That’snot to say that I disliked the book.  However, despite the wonderful imagery, the plot just didn't seem to take off as I hoped.

When the Night Whispers revolves around a divorced mother named Jocelyn, and her eleven-year-old daughter, Mikela.  Separated from her husband for some time, Jocelyn decides to move her single motherhoodedness (yes, I made that up) back to her childhood home, a home passed to her by her deceased mother, Constance.  A house riddled with Welles' descriptions of generations of women gone past, it is here that Jocelyn discovers letters written by her ill-fated great-grandmother, Caprice.  Somewhat ostracized from the family for leaving her daughter behind, Caprice’s letters details the maddening journey she took to separate herself from the charming authority of a dark and influential gentleman.  The novel chops up pieces of Caprice’s personal letters.  Each entry is used to pace alongside the troubles Jocelyn faces when she, too, finds herself suddenly at the sway of another influential gentleman, her neighbor, Asa.  And down the road to the brink of madness does Jocelyn go.  Can Jocelyn salvage herself and break free, or will she fall to Asa’s power and sacrifice her family to please the darkness that he harbors?

Dark stuff, right?  It’s like the paranormal romance without the sappy romance that I so despise (such as Nora Robert‘s Sign of Seven Trilogy).  Another positive is the supporting cast.  Where Jocelyn was nearly out of her mind the entire book, it was characters like Luna and her mother Geneva that really compelled me to continue reading the book.  The novel itself, touched with Southern folklore and porch-songs, had these conscious and aware characters stand out the strongest.  Driven by their intuitive abilities, Luna and Geneva were two who believed in the danger surrounding Jocelyn's neighbor.  So they chose to uncover him.  I love stories surrounding Southern traditions meant to rid people of jinx and haints, and these two characters, buttered with oils and herbs and the will to face the darkness, did not disappoint.  I’ma sucker for cryptic conversations about thwarting the dead; this book had it.

Another supporting character was Jocelyn’s ex-husband, Mike, who did little more than baby-sat their sassy eleven-year-old daughter, Mikela.  Now while this small cast pushed and challenged the main protagonist, Jocelyn, she had some purpose of her own. Besides ruminating about her love/hate relationship with Asa, of course.  It’s through Jocelyn that most of the themes related to the bond between mothers and daughters come about.  As she explores the tension created between her daughter because of a man, she also realizes that those same tensions existed within her family's past.  That realization leads to her desire to keep from making those same mistakes.  And to further the theme of mother-daughter unions was the connection between Luna and her mother (who resided in a nursing home), Geneva.  I believe the secondary theme the book offers is that of relationships and how one can find themselves lost in sustaining one, particularly one that is abusive.

And here is where most of the material fell short to me.  There was a void of concrete sustenance in the development of Jocelyn’s relationship with Asa; toward the beginning to the end.  Their development primarily consisted of pages of told—as opposed to shown—storytelling scenarios revolving around their budding desire.  As someone who likes to dig deep into books and require lots of details to shovel, that wasn't enough for me.  I didn't want to be told about how Asa lured Jocelyn to other countries.  I wanted to see it.  I didn't want to be told how Asa managed to convince Jocelyn to poison her body.  I wanted to see it happen.  And I most certainly didn't want to be told how Asa came to put his hands on Jocelyn.  I wanted to witness it.  I wanted to see those charming good nuggets of things Asa did to win Jocelyn over to the darkness he had to offer.  I wanted to be captured in the moments of their unfolding relationship, but because it didn’t start on such a note, I only ended up humming right through it till the end.  This kind of defeated one of the main purposes of the novel.

Nevertheless, When the Night Whispers was a fantastic read, only because there is enough mystery and cryptic conversations to keep you guessing and reading on into the night.  Some areas could have used a little more fleshing out, but it was still a smooth sail toward some dark satisfaction.

Welles, Savanna. When the Night Whispers. New York: St. Martin's, 2013. Print.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

1996 and Intruding Thoughts

“The Boys sit transfixed before the small computer screen. A green line, indicating the brain wave activity of the Naylor woman, scrolls across the screen. On the other side of the wall, she’s in bed, tossing and turning, trying to get comfortable. They catch their breath in excitement as the words appear at the bottom of the screen; This pillow is too soft. Paulo can’t help himself; every time he sees that a tingling occurs at the bottom of this stomach. To be inside of someone’s mind has to be the sexist thing in the world. There was nowhere left on earth to go, no new frontiers. This was it; they were touching someone’s soul. Each time that it’s his turn, he trembles just a little as he “answers” her. The pillow isn’t too soft. Your head is too hard. After typing those words, he presses the “send” key and there is a slight hum from the satellite dish. Leave me alone. Jesus, would you look at that. She heard them. They’ve done it a dozen times by now, but every time it’s like a little miracle. So this is what it feels like to be God, Paulo thinks."   

This frightening excerpt comes from Gloria Naylor’s fictionalized memoir, 1996.  It’s considered a fictionalized memoir because of the interlocking narrative, sectioned between Naylor’s first person perspective of events (considered reality) and a third person view.  The third person narrative (proposed as fiction) provides readers a glimpse into the villainous acts of the government “squad” used to torment Naylor because of a small series of misunderstandings that inaccurately labeled her an anti-Semitic (those who are discriminating towards Jews).  As a book submerged in Naylor’s familiarity with government surveillance and conspiracies, her accounts left me wondering how probable her experiences were as well as what were the odds of finding myself in something similar.  Should you find time to read the book, you will see how disturbingly easy Naylor arrived to her situation.  And I say that without arguing whether her accounts are fact or fiction.   

Nonetheless, I also left the book wondering whether some of the fleetingly negative criticisms I have for myself are produced from within.  Or are they manufactured thoughts by some other source, as seen in parts of Naylor’s situation?  I suppose the safest choice is to settle with those negative thoughts being constructions of my own.  This may keep me from falling into that whole state of believing that the world is out to get me.  Nevertheless, I’ve always taken into account that nothing--and I mean nothing--in this world can be contained within our knowledgeable grasp.  Meaning, anything can absolutely be.  Nothing is impossible.   

So if those negative voices in our head are not manufactured, as they were in 1996, where do they pop up from?  As the depraved Paulo referred in the passage above, are they from God?  The better question is how true are those voices and should they always be acknowledged when we are faced with decisions or realizations about ourselves?  What percentage of them are thoughts influenced by the beliefs of others?  And how much of those thoughts are residual from our childhood experiences?  That’s what I really wanted to get to.   

So when our mind is wrestling with something, how easy is it to stay impartial and allow the debate to pass?  Is it helpful to stuff down the negative thoughts with positive ones?  Or should the negatives be just as accepted.  Because the mind won’t shut off, will it?  Every bad thought it shares does not pertain to you, though.  That's to be realized.   

Imagine the feeling of relief when we make peace that we are not that stupid voice in our head.  Instead, we’re just there to “listen” to it play out if we choose to.  We don’t have to participate with its corrugated reasoning.  It’s easier that way, but why is it so damn hard to reach such a state?  I find myself wondering this when in my head I am debating the behavior of others based off a decision I’ve made, of course translated through the lens of negativity.  See, a schedule was posted at work, and me being a first shift associate, suddenly found myself relegated to working two second shifts as the MOD, or manager on duty.  At the beginning of the summer I explicitly asked to move and stay exclusive to first shift.  Here, I could continue to have the personal space I felt required to better myself.  As far as the MOD status, I could have sworn that I turned down being a lead back in March.  Trusting my instincts, I should add.  So I was thoroughly perplexed looking at the schedule.  I was not going to get paid to watch over the second shift team members’ work, and should something happen within the store, I wasn’t willing to take the heat and stress crashing on my shoulders.  Nonetheless, I didn’t put up a fuss looking at the schedule, besides the managers had all dipped out!  I simply wrote a post-it note that read something like this:   

“I am not interested in managing second shift or working its hours again.  Thanks.”   

Well, that became the talk of the store.  People began to believe that the real second shift team lead was quitting (management put me on those two days to work her days off).  People thought I was quitting.  People became concerned for the store’s coverage.  Some were even proud of me.  But as for me... I (in my head) just kept thinking that I should have handled the situation differently.  Why?  Because I--once again in my head--believed I had upset some people by causing them to rearrange matters that inconvenienced others.  I am the type of person who tries not to make a fuss wherever I go.  I try to keep things mellow and fun.  For me to outright say “I won’t accept this” is almost unusual.  Granted, I speak my mind and take a no-bullshit approach to certain areas of my life.  However, I was also taught to take on my responsibilities however they come.  Nevertheless, it really did bother me that management felt they could just throw me into such a position after discussing months ago that I didn’t want such.  Still, this negative tape in my head kept insisting that my insubordinate “violation” of other employee’s time and space might’ve been doing too much.  What gave me the right to protest management’s decisions (besides the fact that I wasn’t going to get paid for it)?    

So when a certain employee may have forgotten to speak to me one day, I think it’s because of my demands.  Or when a manager eyes me across the room, I wonder is he ready to give me the boot (which I probably would gladly take) or cut my hours for making such a bold demand.  Is everyone mad at me?   

But it’s all an illusion, you see.  Those things only exist if I make them so and making them so starts with hooking myself into the negative thoughts that encourage them.  Things like my personal intentions and motivations play a role in my decision to spend my good times chasing a better life.  So if those choices ask me to stand up for myself, I must oblige.  It is much more rewarding to congratulate myself than berate myself over the falseness of guilt and negative illusions, which would once again turn into an inner battle begging me to quit the job all together.   

Nevertheless, I suppose the point of this post, in relation to Gloria Naylor’s novel, is to not allow anything, including your very own battling thoughts, to control and wear your purpose.  On all accounts, stand up for yourself throughout inner and outer circumstances.

Naylor, Gloria. 1996. Chicago: Third World, 2007. Print.

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