Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sad Paragraph Tutorial: Overview

Hello, somber people.  Here I will provide an overview on how to write a sad paragraph in five easy steps.
  1. Think of your sad topic.  Some popular ones are death, unrequited love, cloudy days, eternity, and fallen ice cream.
  2. Introduce your topic with a hook -- perhaps via a universal, a quote, or a story about a time it happened to you or someone you know.
  3. Take on your sad topic from several perspectives.  What do other people think about it?  What have others said about it?  Does anyone find this topic, in fact, happy?
  4. Twist your sad topic.  Is there a new layer of sadness that people might not realize?  Is it connected to some seemingly unconnected thing?  Could it be not as sad as you used to think?  End with an unexpected new thought.
  5. Tie this new thought to the original hook for a bonus perspective and that nice full-circle feeling.  Close eloquently.
On the horizon: examples (both serious and less so) I've written, found examples, and maybe a sad mad-libs template (sad-libs?).  Any other ideas, o sad paragraph seekers?  Send them my way.

Friday, June 24, 2011

House and lists, you know, the usual

Whoa Nellie!  Guys, so much happened!  There was VBLX then there was the last week of school then there was Monday, the last day for teachers then there was the first week of summer and here we are.  Here is what I left before VBLX:

And here is what I came back to!:

from the other side!  IT'S SO BRIGHT
Look at that!  Half a wall gone!  Recessed lights in!  A trash can with a lid!  I have been OVERJOYED every moment since I first saw this!  I cannot even believe it.  An open kitchen is basically the only thing I've ever wanted.  Now, if those stairs to the basement weren't there on the right, it could be the most open thing ever, but I'll take what I can get.  The fridge being clear on the other side of everything makes it feel EVEN BIGGER.  But it's not all fun and games: Turns out our kitchen floor has five, count 'em, five, layers to it.  A base of plywood, followed by linoleum, then another design of linoleum, then ceramic (!), then whatever that weird wood-looking thing is on top.  So.  When that's ripped up, the kitchen will be like four inches higher.  Sigh.  The office is painted though, which has inspired me to take it upon myself to prep all the rest of the rooms for painting and start them asap.  I am just so much happier in a freshly painted room that it outweighs the risk of getting it chipped in the rest of the construction!  I will happily repaint an inch to make up for jumping the gun... months early.  We're grateful and happy and everything, but it is taking waayyyy longer than we ever imagined.  We kind of thought Rar would live here and go out for jobs for the company every now and then.  Turns out it's the opposite; he works for his other son like a regular job, and he does our thing on the weekends from around 7 to 2.  Small sigh. 

Goals for Summer 2011
  • learn the potter's wheel
  • paint the house
  • tutor!?
  • make all the sandwiches (ok, most of the sandwiches)
  • start my Sad Paragraph Tutorial.  Turns out many, many people arrive at this blog by searching "sad paragraph," for which this post is the third FIRST result in all the world, according to Google.  Said sad paragraph is about uprooting my pumpkins last year.  But why is everyone googling sad paragraph?  Do they want examples?  Do they want to learn how to write one?  Are they too happy and need to be brought down a little?  I hope to cater to this niche market by giving the people what they want.  And they apparently want sad paragraphs. 
  •  become closer to being a Real Adult
    Things I Like
    • inspiring children to succeed
    • motivated, employable children
    • smart people
    • being safe
    • my "Chamber Pop Mix" on iTunes Genius Mixes.  It's like Pandora One but better.
    • donating to charity
    • Rita's custard
    • blueberries
    Things I Dislike
    • gangs
    • people who don't try at anything
    • unreasonable people
    • cilantro

    Sunday, June 5, 2011

    Body Language, or, How Dancing Is the Opposite of Autism

    We've all read a million and one articles that are like "YOU SHOULD MAKE EYE CONTACT" and "DO NOT CROSS YOUR ARMS YOU WILL LOOK ANGRY" but this is something slightly different!  This is even beyond the fact that your kneeache tells you it's going to rain tomorrow.  As per usual, I noticed something I completely loved and it reminded me of something vaguely related. 

    Something that stuck with me after play therapy with autistic preschoolers was the idea of "body."  The language used was always very careful to distinguish a person from his body -- for symbolic purposes as well as literal, practical ones.  "Mitchell, tell Alice you don't want her touching your body."  "Peyton, how is your body feeling?"  ("Crazy!!!")  We were attuned to the needs of each individual's body -- for instance, if the child('s body) felt threatened by hallways and other open spaces (Alice) or needed vestibular input, ie, squeezes, firm hugs, or bouncing (Graciela) in order to be regulated.  It brought a reality to the phrase "uncomfortable in one's own skin" that I could have never considered without experience with little ones with autism!  The communication associated with these principles astounded me for a very long time.  To think that a mysterious sensation in one's body needed closer boundaries or even pressure in order not to go completely haywire was so strangely validating to the human condition!  Unfortunately, in these examples, the body was communicating its needs because frequently they weren't met -- how can we know unless through frustrating experience that Zahara would only calm down in a pogo swing? 

    In loving a flagrantly opposing means for body language, I decided to get hooked on So You Think You Can Dance this year.  I consider myself a dancer -- a very niche dancer, but a dancer all the same -- and more importantly, I love dance as an idea and I love even more to watch people dance.  And I did get really into American Idol last year and found out I cry at the drop of a hat on these shows (seriously; I cry when people do really well, when they win their ticket or whatever, when they cry, when their family hugs them, when they win but don't have any family or friends there to hug them, when they win but don't have any family or friends there to hug them but then they call out to the lounge outside auditions "Quick! Someone come be my family!" and a herd of strangers run to hug them and jump and celebrate, etc).  Put all that together and I knew I would have the best time watching this show.  And I have.

    My favorite part of these two shows, even more than the dances or songs, is when people are told they're moving on to whatever next round -- and they celebrate.  Somehow.  Many cry, many laugh, many are in disbelief, many have that face where they look like they're hardly reacting at all but really they're taking it the most humbly and joyously.  I cry love when the contestants hurdle over various stages or stairs or equipment to hug the judges -- but far and away, the best reactions are from the dancers who dance in celebration.  That's what they do!  In an uncannily similar way to children with autism except with the exact opposite need, their bodies are overcome with a sensation that they can't get out and they don't know what to do with.  Both populations are unaccustomed to using words to express emotions, both understand an ethereal component of existence, not by choice.  Both experience feelings, states of being that transcend language -- but sadly, it frequently manifests in a negative way for autistic children, often involving angry tears, flight, or physical harm.  In stark contrast, for these winning dancers, this overwhelming urge happens to be a happy one!  We should all be so lucky that our speechless moments are due to joy.  As sad as I am for the helpless communication these children must employ, I am equally delighted at these winning dancers.  With conventional communication insufficient, they naturally default to what they do best: when they hear the good news, they dance!  Some leap.  Some jump, spin, kick, dougie, etc.  But the way they move is always tinged with dance, and that the joy inherent in that makes me tear up too.