Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Semi-Retirement, The Fork in the Road, and Choosing Truth over Comfort

Recently I have realized that I have saved enough to revert back to being an adjunct professor. I enjoy working on the Fashion After 50 website; I have additional online teaching possibilities that I don't fully use.

But I like comfort. I like the extras that working full-time allows, even when the restrictions -- no vacations except a week (five days) after every four-month term,  have to punch a time clock like a kid on her first job, responsibilities that crowd out my creative work and make it more challenging to exercise -- cramp the possibilities of growing fully into who I am.

As so often is the case, a serendipitous nudge seems to point in a certain direction.

Writes Alice Gardner, in her wonderful little book, Life Beyond Belief, Everyday Living as Spiritual Practice:

"If there was one factor most responsible for the continued awakening of those who seek the truth, it would have to be that of consistently choosing to seek truth over the comforts that appear to be available along the way.

"Each stage of development that we move through has its own kind of comforts inherent in it and we may be tempted to settle for those comforts instead of some far-away-sounding spiritual destination that mind isn't even sure exists. (p. 129)

 "By what means can we avoid these kinds of diversions?

"There is, of course, not a method, but only a cultivating of an awareness of our deepest intentions and a willingness to look inside ourselves to find our own most authentic responses to each moment.

"If there was anything that might be called a method to deal with how to make the little decisions in life without compromising truth for comfort, it would be to unearth this internal navigation system [that each person has] and be true to it and to ourselves in all of the little day-to-day decisions that come along, as well as the occasional major decisions." (p. 130)

That seems to be an answer of sorts, and I have a timeline for easing back into adjunct work in a way that will cause, hopefully, the least financial disruption to my goals. 

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Venice, Florida, Flea Market with Unusual Architecture

On a recent trip to Venice, Florida, I spotted this beguiling dome-roofed flea market.

Whimsically painted in turquoise and aqua, it looks like a fun place to stop.

I love the remnants of kitschy Old Florida, fast vanishing from our landscape of strip malls, parking lots, and neat subdivision homes where dogs are not allowed.

The dome stretches behind the front structure a good way. The sky the day I took these photos was miraculous.

Fish Depot: From the Ocean to You

Fish Depot in Boynton Beach is the best fish market in South Florida. I drive up from Fort Lauderdale with my cooler.

By the time I get there, the selection may be depleted as you see here.

You might think that this old-fashioned method of refrigeration wouldn't be as good as coolers. But that is far from the truth. People like me come from all over to Fish Depot on Federal Highway (U.S. 1).

When I lived closer, I often saw fishermen driving up with a boat on a tow to offload whatever they didn't want for personal use at the back door of Fish Depot, shown here.

If I recall right, the unusual structure once housed a neighborhood bar, way back in the early 1980s.

I like the whimsical windmill design. Kitschy structures like this once dotted South Florida, calling out to tourists making their way South on U.S. 1.

Most have fallen to wreckers and been replaced by trim subdivision housing.

Besides having the best fish, Fish Depot has this cool mural to hide the dumpster.

Why do I love living in South Florida? Let me count the ways.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Banish You Guys, A Scourge on the Language

The ugly, low-class phrase you guys has become the most common way to address listeners.

I have heard people with master’s degrees address a group of educators – all with advanced degrees – as you guys.

I have heard highly-paid business professionals of mixed gender, all in suits, addressed as you guys.

Game show announcers and media commentators with seven- and eight-figure incomes call listeners you guys.

Some of my students are so baffled by this turn of events that when I ask them not to use you guys in formal speeches, they ask, “What should we call a group of people then?”

They were surprised that the English language already has a perfectly good word for addressing a group of people: you.

Once known to every elementary school child that you was both a singular and plural form of address, this has become obscure, esoteric knowledge.

Decades ago, the Modern Language Association and the American Psychological Association acted on research that demonstrated gender-exclusive language has a constrictive effect on people’s abilities to imagine non-gendered roles and characteristics for women.

This is especially true for young children who take what they hear literally. If doctors are referred to as he and nurses as she, they assume those are the roles they must fill.

Gender-inclusive language became preferred.

Women were often told that when a word such as mankind was used, of course it included them. I am pretty sure that if the convention had been to refer to all people as "whitekind," only ignorant racists would argue that people of color should simply know that of course the word included them.

Today the word guys is freighted with traditionally masculine attributes such as watching football, drinking beer, and ogling women. So it is even more offensive to call any group you guys when it may include people born male who choose not to self-present as traditionally masculine.

I am on a one-woman crusade to stop this scourge on the English language.

I have asked colleagues to please stop referring to a group that contains me as you guys as I am not now, have never been, and have no intention of becoming a guy.

I quietly suggested to a department assistant director who supervises a small group of women, all highly accomplished and most with master’s degrees, that it is disrespectful to refer to them as you guys, as she often does as meetings.

I have edited my own speech so that this phrase, as catchy as the flu, does not disgrace my own address.

I penalize student speakers – just a little, just a reminder – who use this phrase in formal speeches.

There is a perfectly good, simple word in the English language for addressing any group of males, or females, or both, or any mixture of males, females, hermaphrodites, transgenders, bisexuals, and the coming generations of cyborgs, chimeras and clones – and that word is YOU.

It is sufficient.