Sunday, November 30, 2008

Topic Number 2 Hurray! 11/30-12/6

Hey Folks! Mod #2 here. I am an epic failure and couldn't write a damn thing about change this week so instead I bring you this weeks topic.

We all use things from our day to day life to write. Certain rules that govern our environment shape how we interact and what we write about. For this weeks topic, write about a normal experience where a fundamental rule has been violated. For example, gravity pulls both up and down, genders don't exist, bunnies are actually ferocious beasts, men carry children to term. Who knows. Have fun with it. Enjoy!

Ch-ch-chaaange... change of fools...

Change happens because it needs to.

That's not to discredit the many people who effectuate it, like the civil rights activists of the '50s and '60s or the scores of French revolutionaries. They are a necessary part of change, but not in the way you might expect.

People don't drive the machine; they're the cogs inside. Once society gets to a certain point, things click into place and move forward. Individuals can try to delay it (like the "Yes on 8" people in California), but they never win in the end. Change is a force, and you can try to keep it at bay just like you can keep a plane in the air to fight gravity. Eventually the plane will return to earth, the regressive movement will fall, and the force will win.

That makes it all the more frustrating to find yourself in a situation like the gay rights movement does now. We're going to win - we can feel ourselves hurtling toward equal rights - but someone or other keeps trying to hold us back. Eventually we'll wear this straw man down, and then change will seem to leap forward. But it won't - it'll just finally have taken its course.

Unfortunately for all of us, that includes some changes we might not like (just ask the "Yes on 8" people). If my parents are any indication, by the time I hit 60 I won't be able to use a single piece of modern technology, and if marketing has its way, advertisements will be beamed directly onto our retinas. And of course, that's only if it turns out this same force isn't what's driving climate change. (Just think - how often do you find yourself actively hoping it's all our fault?)

Assuming it's not, I'll be happy to be on the winning side of my pet sociological movement. After all, the winners write the history books, and nothing looks as bad in retrospect as a regressive. What a pity for them that we have all the style!

How It Is

Sometimes you’re lucky, it’s quick and almost painless. For you it was that simple: I was out and she was in, you were in love and I wasn’t invited, and maybe you were guilty for a few days but boy didn’t fucking your new girlfriend make everything Okay. How could you help it when you were so deeply and unexpectedly in love with the plain-faced tramp you’d been sneaking around with! Suddenly love is an excuse, being in love is somehow supposed to make your actions understandable, it’s an uncontrollable disease like alcoholism, and this is the part where I should say “You’re right, let’s still be friends,” because I’m not supposed to mind that my boyfriend, whom I love, has changed his mind about me, about us. I’m supposed to forget how he held me in the shower, careless and sleepy under the constant water, and said that we would be together for always, or else I should remember that “always” actually meant “until some bitch with tits turns my head right around.”

So she has you now for the holidays, for Halloween and my birthday and Thanksgiving and Christmas. I, in the meantime, have endless theories on picking up and moving on, none of which claim to be as expedient as your change of heart. Half the length of the relationship, says the nagging voice of popular culture, or else until you’ve hit enough rebound. Not until you fall in love again, say the hopeless romantics. You’ll never recover, says the voice of the even more hopeless romantic in the very back of my head, the one that can recall all too quickly the story a teacher once told me: “and when she died we found, still in her locket, a picture of her lost first love.” Balancing it out is the na├»ve, practical persona who says it’s up to your body, you’ve got to get rid of all that excess manganese and prolactin, you’ve gotta get outta your funk and into some emotional equilibrium, keep busy and get that adrenaline pumping, you’ll be fine again in no time. Except no time doesn’t get here fast enough, so you’re bitter and depressed and you cry all the time, always fighting the urge to scream it to all your friends, “What the fuck, I love him!” They’ve heard it and they know it and if you keep saying it out loud it’s like saying that somebody died, part of your life is over and you’re never getting it back, and all you can do is sit there and weep while you wait for your fresh start to arrive, to really and truly begin.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Tienen Cambio?

November 4th, 2008.

MLK probably didn't see it coming.

I'm certain Malcolm X didn't see it either.

Hell, I still can't believe it happened.

But it happened. A man who just happened to be Black became President of the United States of America.

Now as awesome as that sounds, I can't help but wonder...will we really get to see change? I'd like to think that we will but not because we elected a Black man as President. Nor because he says he's going to change things in Washington and throughout the country.

No, I'd say that the change that will happen will only happen once the people of this world wake up. As citizens of the world, we are faced with the gravest of situations: our global economy is in shambles, poverty, famine, disease, and war are realities for billions of people across the globe. No single man or womyn can change the world. BUT collectively, all people can strive together to make change in the world around them.

Gandhi once proclaimed that we should all "Be the change we want to see in the world" and I firmly believe that. It's not a matter of looking towards our leaders for change but more of us taking action to make that change a reality. Working within your community, whether that's in East LA or Sierra Leone, is key to making any sort of dent in the problems that humanity faces.

Personally, my own ambitions and goals lie within the realm of creating change in my side of the world: Los Angeles. Gender, Immigration, Class, Sexual Orientation, under-funded Public Schools; all of these are issues that many people face in Los Angeles. It's one thing to learn about these injustices and be outraged. It's an entirely other thing to actually do something about them.

I plan on taking my life in a direction where as a teacher, I can try to restore some academic substance to a school system that fails thousands of students. As a future lawyer, I plan on tackling the System that has so far failed to provide people with the right to live their lives as they see fit.

As we reach the end of our time here on Earth, the best thing any of us can hope for is to leave this planet a little better than it was when we came in.

So don't just sit here in front of your computer reading about change.

Get the hell out of your room/office and DO SOMETHING!

---Luis "El que tiene cambio en su Corazon" Gallegos







Session One

Okay folks, let's have some fun. The first session has begun, and all writing should be posted by next Sunday, November 30. That's right, you've got until the end of November to eke out some small (or large) bit of writing. Let's do it to it.

TOPIC: As much as things seem to stay the same, we have recently managed to undergo a significant change in the US, hopefully one that will beget positive change for the future. Change is no surprise; as Remy noted in Ratatouille, "Change is nature." Change is part of the natural order of things, a nearly unchangeable constant. The element to watch is the rate of change, which was the historical aspect of the Obama election. Undoubtedly we would have ended up, eventually, with a president of color; what people did not expect was to have a president of color "so soon." At the same time, as we saw in California with the passing of Prop 8, sometimes the change we expect to see, the change we are ready for, does not come when we call for it.

Please submit your thoughts not on change, but on how change happens, the rate at which it happens, the things that influence change and make it inevitable. Your thoughts do NOT have to be about Obama, or Prop 8, or any of the examples I mentioned. Unless that's what you want to write about, in which case, please do so! :-D

(Don't worry, they won't all be this droll. I'm just nervous, and eager to get the first topic out of the way.)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What's This? Also--The Rules

So, what's this all about, then?

Using Our Words is a weekly writing exercise blog created by a group of friends, for the self-same group of friends (and anyone else who wants an in). At the beginning of each week, a topic will be posted. By the end of the week, all participants will post their response to the topic, or some other piece of writing they've worked on for the week.

All written forms are allowed for submission--poetry, short stories, chapters for longer stories, fiction, nonfiction, (auto)biography, historical work, fairy tales, articles, wandering thoughts, anything you want, any length you want.

The Topic of the Week is not a mandatory topic--it's a suggested guideline for people who may want to have an idea to get them going. If you have something else you'd rather write about, go ahead and write it. Otherwise, it's pretty amazing to see all the different directions a group of people can take with a single idea.

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So, what are the rules that will (hopefully) prevent us from delving into chaos?

The most important thing, folks, is to be respectful and courteous of one another. We are all very different from one another, and so we may not always agree with, or even like, what the rest of us write. And if you disagree with someone, you are free to say so--but there will be no flaming, there will be no bashing, there will be nothing to discourage posters from posting. This is supposed to be an exercise in fun, not in holier-than-thou know-it-all-ness.

Even as we discourage outright negativity (eg. YOU SUCK, YOUR WRITING SUCKS, YOU'RE STUPID, etc etc), we DO encourage constructive criticism, since the only way to know what other people think of your writing is to hear them say it. If you think something can be improved upon, and if you have a suggestion for implementing said improvement, please, say something! This isn't a circle jerk--none of us write perfectly, and we deserve the chance to become better writers, or at the very least to hear how our writing is viewed by people besides our own damn selves. You want people to take you seriously? Give good critique, and be a good recipient. Also, please remember: If you're gonna dish it, please be prepared to take it when it is dished back your way.

More rules will be added if we need to add them, but hopefully that won't happen. Whenever there is an update to the rules, we will let you know with a new entry.