5 Things College Professors Want Your Freshman to Understand

Every year, over 2,000,000 students will step into a college classroom for the first time. The dorm accessories are bought, the financial accommodations made, and high school yearbooks are put on the shelf. The sad news is only 55 percent of freshmen will make it all the way to the graduation stage. Although financial and personal reasons account for some of the derailment, not being prepared for the classroom is an across-the-board problem. Here’s what college professors want in-coming freshmen to know.

Read More on About.com.

Fidel Was Robin Hood. Fidel Was A Monster.

“How did you hear?” I asked Mariela. I hadn’t seen her for ten years, but we still kept in touch over Facebook. She lives in North Carolina and I live in Tennessee. When the news broke of Fidel Castro’s death at ninety years old, she popped into my mind. I sent her a Facebook message, and she immediately replied.

“My boyfriend told me when I woke up, but I was half asleep and didn’t understand. My middle sister in Tampa texted me and my oldest sister a few minutes later… I don’t process information that early in the morning so it took me a while to really understand,” Mariela said.

“I didn’t find out until the morning, either. My brother said he found out the night before. I guess right when it was announced. He woke my dad at one a.m. to tell him.”

Read More at Narrative.ly.

Women’s March Participant Speaks Out About Being Target Of Senator’s Harassment Campaign (The Establishment)

“The Women’s March encompassed so many issues I am passionate about, and as a woman with two daughters, I have to participate in making sure they have the same or better rights than I have had.”

This is how Susan — whose name has been changed for her protection—describes her decision to take to the streets in Jackson, Mississippi, for the march over the weekend. For those like her who live in the heart of Tea Party country, the march was more than a powerful visual; it was a safe space to speak out, offering temporary safety from the Trumpian majority who respond to liberal women with vitriolic threats.

Perhaps, in such a deeply conservative state, it should come as no surprise that women like this who deigned to protest were also swiftly targeted and degraded. Two days after she marched, Susan saw a post from her own representative, Chris McDaniel of the 42nd district, posted on his public, official page.

Read More at The Establishment

Colleen McCullough Saved My Life

Colleen McCullough and The Thorn Birds pulled me through one of the strangest times in my life. I was living in Nashville, 1990–91, and working at a group home for severely mentally and disabled males. It was quite an isolating experience. The state said that during the day there could be two staff members, but at night, there could only be one. So it was left to me to lay on a wood veneer single bed off the kitchen of the home only to wake in the middle of the night to find one of the house members naked and brushing his private hair with another tenant’s toothbrush.

When you work in that industry long enough, you can find the humor of/and at the individuals. Such good times when you’re driving a van full of clients and one who shouts out directional commands randomly. So you’re burning down I 65 in Nashville when he stands and screams, “Stop.” Your foot goes to the break about to fishtail the van toward an exit, when he sits, looks round and says, “Okay. Go. Go now.”

imgres-2I was engaged to my now husband. Conveniently, after dating the majority of people in my hometown, I had found someone in Australia who hadn’t heard of me. We had one official date and the rest was done long distance. Even in the early nineties, we didn’t have many Australian imports, movies or celebrities or beer. My mom asked, “Well, have you read The Thorn Birds?” I was already developing my literary snobbishness and didn’t want to read anything I could purchase off a spinning, wire rack. But I found a copy somewhere with the four dollars a week I was getting paid to clean food off the floor, and walls, and ceiling. And someone’s private hair.

So I began to read it at night, as I listened out for any body getting up out of his bed. Thankfully, it was a long book, and it sucked me into this whole different world far from the one I was living in. On a cold, wet Nashville night, I was in the dry, hot outback.

My position as a caretaker wasn’t just hard work, it was sometimes socially unacceptable. We had a certain amount of money where we could take them out to eat once a week. People sat upright when they saw us coming in—guys with flailing arms and lolling tongues, the one who, when he got nervous, just pulled his dingdong constantly. It was hard to remain stoic and keep the thought no, this is a good activity for them and, hell, why shouldn’t they be able to eat at Shoney’s. I’ve seen worse. There would be a look of disgust on people’s faces as they watched mashed potatoes become face lotion on some of the individuals. I don’t blame them. I can’t stand the stand the sound of chewing coming out of my own offspring.

One time, after not getting to eat and running around the table sweating, helping feed each guy and wipe his face and hands, an older couple came up to me and shook my hand. The man said, “We really appreciate what you’re doing. Our daughter did this for a while.” They left a $50 bill in my hand, and I really question who deserved the $50.

Each night I’d flip through The Thorn Birds, thrilled to have some escape from a day where I saw that these young men weren’t going to get better, they weren’t going to learn how to speak, they didn’t know what was going on most of the time. I dove into a world that made me feel close to my fiancé as well as not being dragged down into the tasks of my day. The heartbreak of the story gutted me. So when I woke to one of the tenants taking all the bags of peas out of the deep freezer and putting him in his bed, I rolled out of mine where I was most likely dreaming of verandas and gum trees, and felt guilty and thrilled that I’d someday go there.

The Impossibility of Oversharing

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There’s been a few articles about over sharing recently. How much is too much to share in memoir, personal essay, and even Facebook posts? Since I am pretty good with seeming like I over share, I thought I’d try and explore the intent and ramifications behind opening yourself to strangers.
Having just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed, I wanted to write her, become best friends and talk about the devastation of losing a mother. Her wound was so raw—and so all encompassing—not having a father or close siblings to tether herself to. I reveled in the fact that she was worse off than I was. That is what makes for a good memoir. The writer is further out on the lonely dock than you are. She tells you, it’s tough out here, but I’m still okay.
The fallacy of over sharing is that it is innocent—that I, or whomever, is oblivious to what they are doing. But it is usually calculated. To believe my life is laid bare is incorrect. I only reveal what I want to reveal, and only for a purpose, some of which is to either 1) make myself look good or 2) garner help for myself (which, fortunately, sometimes comes in the form of helping others).
Sharing is manipulative. One does it for some sort of response. For me, there is something helpful in getting what is poisoning my inside out. I feel it release. But what is shared is only small parts of me. It’s never everything. We must leave more for our spouses and close friends. And a few things for ourselves.
Even this article, with all its vulnerability, is still a form of manipulation. I’m the worst at getting annoyed at professional writers who use this technique as a way to garner fans because I can see right through it, since I understand how to do this same thing. I am always going to get a return on my being vulnerable (not that that is a bad thing) because that’s the nature of humanity. Everyone wants to cuddle the lost bunny.
Then there is intent. Along with it helping me to release it, it also attracts some sort of accountability. The “how are you doing” question is usually the first thing people ask me these days. Since getting over a personal crisis, I can find it a bit annoying, but it is what I signed up for, so I give a thoughtful response. My main intent in the first place was to find community.
For the past few months, I have been contacted by strangers, old friends, people on Twitter, work colleagues, all who are dealing with anxiety or depression in some form. A few times a week I end up texting, Facebook messaging, or talking to someone who is/has gone though a difficult time. I’m positive I’ve missed the cues of people who were trying to tell me they were going through something. I’ve brushed people off. I’ve given crappy advice. I’ve pushed too hard. I’ve assumed what worked for me would work for everyone. But, that’s not the same as intent. That’s plain effing-up.
For the over sharing debate in writing, it really is relative. Rarely will the writer feel she is oversharing. It’s the reader who will. And that’s what you need to decide. How much do you care what people who don’t need the message really think?