What I Learned About Myself Today

What I learned about myself today is that …

I am more willing to face an unknown tomorrow than I am to make tomorrow unknown for someone else.

Can’t really explain it here, but those of you who have been there may understand. Suffice to say that we are who we are based not on what we get out of life, but based on what we put into it. I want to put in only the good things and hope/pray that something good finds me in the end — even if I’m a little uncomfortable for a while.


The Sad Side of College Sports

This afternoon a Facebook friend posted a link to a graphic of dogs with buck teeth and wigs dressed up as Alabama cheerleaders. The person who posted the graphic made a comment that maybe we should remember that the people involved in SEC sports are 18 to 21 years of age — a good argument I wish more people would make. I replied under the picture saying it was sad that this, a cheap shot at young girls, was an example of how little sportsmanship was left in the game.

The conversation went downhill from there. A few LSU fans chimed in that this kind of online bullying was no big deal. They wouldn’t care if it was a depiction of their daughter, they said.

I’m all about a good game — I love the tailgating, spending time with friends, good food and lots of laughs. I enjoy the actual game itself, watching how good coaching and the sheer effort of an athlete can make all the difference between winning and losing. But where in mean-spirited graphics is there an actual debate about the game?

Instead of worrying about the strategy of the opposing team, some of these online graphics and jeers are more about taking cheap shots at the expensive of kids working hard to make it through college — most of them on scholarships that demand long hours on the field practicing in addition to the hours of coursework they need to complete their degree. Now, you can get into a debate about whether or not some athletes are given an easy ride in their college career for the sake of the sport, but we’ll leave that debate for another day.

Another frustrating part of the issue is that the online bullying seems to be considered by some fans as exempt from “normal life.” I wonder if the people who enjoy debasing young women like the Alabama cheerleaders or those who, say, call fans of the opposing team inbred, ill-educated, hillbillies (that was another comment I heard recently) would feel comfortable standing up in church the next day to share that comment with their pastor or priest.

At the end of the day, comments and graphics that take cheap shots at the opposition do little more than to embolden those who argue that some college football fans go too far in their “love of the game.”

How about we focus more on the actual game, the athletes, the coaches? Just a thought.

An Intelligent Response to Stupidity

I could have written another blog post about how this article from the New York Times is ridiculous. Instead, I’ll let my friend Erin, who happens to be a scientist with a Ph.D., do it for me. Read her critique of the NY Times article here.

Btw, Erin is amazing and a fellow Newcomb College, Tulane University alumna.

An Open Letter to Continental/United

Below is an open letter to Continental/United that I submitted through their online form. My experience with their reservations system, their customer service telephone line, website and representatives were pretty horrendous. Worse still was the inability of Continental to fix admit their own mistake, apologize and make it right. I did eventually make it home to Baton Rouge, but it was after an extremely frustrating, migraine-inducing experience.

Dear United/Continental Airlines,

I’ll try to give you a summary here, but I was told by a Continental representative that my flight log says it all and that someone will surely call me:

When I tried to check in online on October 30, Continental’s site told me my itinerary was cancelled. See the attached documents (not posted online to omit personal information). I tried calling Continental and United. I tried e-mailing through the online form. I tried Facebook. I tried Twitter. No response.

When we showed up yesterday morning, the extremely curt, impatient representative at the Continental check-in counter, Jim (last name excluded for online version), informed me that yes, my itinerary was cancelled on the first leg of our trip last week from BTR to IAD when they had to move us to American Airlines (there was a mechanical failure on the Continental flight on which we were booked) so that we would still reach D.C., on the day of our scheduled travel.

He informed me he could not get me on a flight that day and I would just have to wait, even though it was Continental’s fault. Eventually he sent me to Reagan International for a different flight, separating me from my boyfriend.

A woman at Reagan in Continental later informed me that this is a major issue and I should complain. She said that this happens to many people now because of the merger and the airlines (referencing Continental and United) don’t talk to one another.

I spoke to a Continental Customer Service representative when I got to Houston who then informed me that the Continental representative in D.C., hadn’t actually booked me for the connecting flight and I wouldn’t make it to BTR that day — there was a weight restriction on the flight. Again, no issue with my boyfriend’s ticket. I was put on standby.

Only by the grace of another passenger getting stuck on the train did I actually get on that flight.

Throughout the entire process I found only one Continental employee to be kind and apologetic. I am a small-framed woman and was more shaken than angry (verging on tears rather than raising my voice).

There was no reason for the rude, short demeanor of many of the Continental employees, especially considering that the issue was not of my doing but Continental’s.

Throughout this entire experience, all I really needed to hear was an apology from someone. Now, I am furious, exhausted and extremely burned by Continental.

I would like to know that some has read this, and I would like a response. I hate to say that I want some sort of compensation for this experience, but given the circumstances, I do feel it is fitting. Please make this right.

Olivia Watkins

You have killer taste

If you were an English major in college or you took a creative writing class once upon a time, chances are that you are familiar with the dread that comes from writing. You spend hours slaving over a poem, a short story, a piece of creative fiction and all you can think at the end of the process is, “This sucks. No one will like it. I hate my writing.”

Recently, digging through boxes of old college work, I came across an e-mail exchange between me and my creative writing professor that went a little something like this:

Me: Hey! I’ve attached my poem “Little black book.” Sorry for turning it in so late.

Professor: No problem. Thanks for sending. This looks great.

Me: Ugh. Does the sinking feeling ever go away?

Professor: No. Not really. In fact, later you just layer the desire to vomit after turning something in with the general feeling of disgust.

The thing is, he is so completely right. The fear of allowing people to read my writing never really went away. And after all this time, I still hate just about everything I’ve ever produced — short stories, poems, articles for magazines, birthday messages to my grandma. Everything.

So what does all this fear and disgust do? It keeps me from writing. Well, that’s not the correct response. How am I ever going to get better? When will I ever produce something I love if I just stop producing?

It’s a little like how I got over the fear of roller coasters. I just kept riding them. Sure, I’d chicken out every now and then, but I kept trying. And you know what? I fell in love with roller coasters. (Plug for Universal Studios here – The Hulk roller coaster is the bomb.)

So I’ve made a pledge to myself: I will not let the fear of failure keep me from writing. After all, why stop doing what I truly love to do?

Yeah, I may still get rejected when I submit an essay to The Southern Review, but at least I have practiced. And practice makes perfect, or something like that.

Still afraid to keep doing your own creative work? Here’s a little something that Nick Hwang showed me the other day when I was feeling particularly down on my work:

And Ira is correct. You and I both have killer taste (Ira does too). We know what is good; it just may take us a while to produce it. So keep trying. I’ll keep writing. Maybe sometime we can share with each other.