So I finally did it. I finished. I actually finished, unlike some other people *cough*. With respect to blogging and writing, this is the first time I’ve actually finished anything, so that’s definitely a high. Low? Maybe I didn’t even need to do this in the first place. I had meant this to be a warm up to the thing I really wanted to work on, but maybe I should’ve just done that thing instead. Another high is figuring out what I like to write about and what I don’t like to write about. In any case, I’m done! Cue Rave Dog!
1. When I was about 10 or 11 my friend and I were watching Return of the Jedi and during the final Battle of Endor Wedge says, “Good shot, Red 2!” after Red 2 takes out a TIE fighter. Then my friend jokes by saying, “Good shot, Red 2! Of course, I could do better – OH NO I’M HIT!” We proceeded to laugh so hard for the next 25 years.
2. The combination of the joke and seeing Stephen Colbert lose it here makes me lose it every time. In the 100+ times I’ve watched this, and 100% of the time I laugh. 75% of the time it’s with tears.
Conversely, write about something that’s kicking ass right now.
Being a web developer can simultaneously be the most rewarding experience and the most depressing experience. The best thing about my job is that I get to create something from nothing, and that something can actually be useful to someone else. My worst thing about my job is that people complain about everything. If a website is humming along and doing what it’s supposed to do, people shouldn’t really notice. If something suddenly stops working, the Internet will rain down hate on said website and you will know about it.
Write about an area in your life you’d like to improve.
No matter how old you get, it’s always good to constantly make improvements to your life and work on yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. I have also heard that once you reach my age, your ways are pretty set so don’t even bother. I don’t think it’s impossible, but it’s definitely more difficult to course correct. Your body can’t process Funyuns as efficiently as it used to, joints you didn’t know existed start to randomly ache, your subconscious is not as easily swayed by inspirational posters and quotes (that “Hang in There” cat probably died long ago, I’M JUST KEEPING IT REAL), and your emotional reflex of avoiding human interaction in favor of Netflix is well established.
Think of any word…Search it on Google Images. Write something inspired by the 11th image.
Joke’s on you, Writing Challenge! You were probably thinking people would get all introspective and deep and think of a word like “introspective”. Maybe you thought people would be playful and ironic and think of a word like “fanny pack”. My word is “burrito”. Suck it, Writing Challenge! When I used Google Image’d “burrito, here was the 11th image:
My son has been talking a lot about burritos lately for some reason. He doesn’t even like burritos, but every night when I put him to bed, he asks me to sing a song about burritos. So every night, we end up making a song about burritos and what we’d put in a burrito. Here is the definitive Dylan/Dad list of things we would put in a burrito. I’ll let you guess as to which contributions are his.
Chips (see how we immediately gave up on trying to rhyme with “burrito”?)
Tiny burritos (a.k.a. the meta-rrito)
Curtis (the name of the cow-shaped humidifier in his room)
Chicken (the first time a real burrito ingredient was mentioned)
Tomatoes (found another that rhymes with “burrito”!)
Most lessons learned in life are learned the hard way. As a toddler, I didn’t learn that hot things could burn me until I actually burned my hand on something. As a young boy, I didn’t learn that I could get the wind knocked out of me until I took a soccer ball square in the chest at point blank range. As an adult, I didn’t learn how lucky I am to have a job I enjoy until I actually got one, leaving a trail of jobs I didn’t enjoy in my wake.
One lesson I have certainly learned in the past month is about doing this 30 day challenge in the first place. My friend over at bookreviewsandhaikus.com actually did all 30 days, which is an accomplishment in itself. Sometimes I would check out the blogshe was inspired by to do the challenge when I would get stuck on what to write, just to see how others did it. To my surprise, that person didn’t even do all 30! She only did 13 of the 30 (she made it to day 23, but also skipped days 9 through 17!). When I found this out, I felt a little cheated, to be honest. Even though my friend had completed it, the person we ultimately both were inspired by to do this in the first place didn’t even finish. It’s not as bad as learning that there’s no Santa Claus. In the end, I did this to force myself to write more, and I have, so mission accomplished. I guess the lesson in this is to make sure that the source of your inspiration really does carry the spirit of what you’re trying to accomplish. This isn’t really a deep or serious lesson learned the hard way, but it is a lesson that can be applied to something that may end up being deep or serious.
This letter isn’t to a particular someone, but it is to anyone.
Dear person who got fired/had to resign because of a stupid photo/tweet/Facebook status:
I know that most people have very little sympathy for you, since you voluntarily said something ignorant/racist/sexist/douchey, but I sympathize. Sort of. You are an end product of a society that demands more justice than understanding, more shaming than learning, more segregation than integration. The Internet was supposed to unite the world, democratize technology, and free information from the shackles of the physical world, and for the most part it has. However, it has also allowed you to create an insular bubble that feeds you information and opinions that only you want to hear. I know my social feeds are pretty skewed toward the nerd, with nary a trace of broism. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s not. Maybe I should be more open to other people, other opinions, and other points of view. When you live in what basically amounts to an echo chamber, you no longer have a reference point for something that can be interpreted as “totally not cool to say”. This echo can build and build until it’s loud enough to be heard by people outside your usual sphere of influence, as this woman learned the hard way.
It’s easy to rain down shame and hate from the glowing screen of a phone. It’s way harder to do it to someone’s face. This is not to excuse the stupid thing you said, and I’m not saying I’ve been immune to getting caught up in the shaming, but I don’t believe everyone on earth who says something stupid needs to have their life ruined, or else everyone’s life would be ruined. So even though you may be an ignorant/racist/sexist douchebag, I would hope that you could at least get a chance to change your ways from your one transgression before your life is irreversibly ruined by the Internet. That would remove one more ignorant/racist/sexist douchebag from the world and I think that is better than creating another even more bitter human being.
Except Donald Trump. He needs to be fired. Like, now.
What three lessons do you want your children to learn from you?
1. Work hard and be nice to people These are not mutually exclusive principles. Being nice and being a pushover are also not the same thing, so you can be nice and still stand firm in your principles and work ethic. I am not the best at either of these things, but if my kids learn only these two things, they should go far.
2. Be grateful for where you are in life After I graduated high school, my mom made me get a summer job before college. She literally sat down with me and went through the classifieds, a.k.a. job listings printed out on physical paper that existed in the real physical world. I found a job at a company that takes inventory for stores – from smaller clothing stores in the mall to the Targetses, K-Martses and Searses. It paid $6.25 an hour and I hated it. I had to wake up at 4am so I could get to work at 5am so we could drive to the store by 6am to start doing inventory before a store opened. It was a crappy first job, but I think all first jobs should be crappy. One day I came home complaining about my crappy summer job and she said to me (and I’m paraphrasing), “You’re lucky that you’re going to college and getting an education so you can have a career and better your life. Some of the people you’re working with, they have no choice. They are stuck there and they HAVE to take that job.” I started college in the fall and never looked back.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail Whatever you learn from your successes, you learn 100 times more from failures. So if you fail more, you learn more (at least you should be). Of course, you should eventually have a win, and that’s where all that learning will have come in handy. I want them to try all kinds of things. The quicker you find out that you’re not good at something, the quicker you can either move on or work on getting better at that thing. I don’t want my kids to be looking back on life with a bunch of “what ifs”.
Honorable Mention: Take care of your parents when they get old This theoretically should be the first lesson from a purely selfish point of view, but one reason you have kids is to hope that they’ll grow up and still love you enough to help out when you become too old to do the things you were able to do on your own. There is no guarantee they won’t grow up and throw you in a retirement home the first chance they get, but all of life is a gamble.