Posts Tagged ‘ books ’

It All Started With Warm Noodles…

The “Stop & Smell the Nostalgia” Series: Part I

Smells can transport us to another time and place. We might not yet have time machines to alter our physical position, but our senses can trigger memories that elicit forgotten emotions, moving us in ways that transcend literal location. Musty buildings, for instance, will always remind me of my “haunted” college dorm, while old books take me back to the period when my mother and I read “The Amityville Horror” every night after dinner. Some smells, however, hit us unexpectedly, revealing memories we never knew we had.

For me, it all started with warm noodles.

My mother would often make elbows earlier in the day so we’d need only warm them over at lunch. On the day in question, when I removed the container from the microwave to test the temperature, the smell sent me reeling. Suddenly, I was back in my grandmother’s kitchen, doing homework after school while she cooked dinner over the hot stove. Elbows were her noodles of choice, so the faint smell of warm pasta was always in the air. It wasn’t until that moment, though, that I realized how closely intertwined those two seemingly disparate memories were.


Ever since, it’s as if I’ve been on an endless spiral back to my single-digit days—days when I’d listen to the radio on my Sony “My First Walkman” or ride my “Beauty & the Beast” bike in rapid circles around my grandfather’s basement. Even the quietest sound or the briefest sight will take me back to the days of stirrup pants and Dunkaroos.

But I guess I’m right in style, wouldn’t you agree? Nostalgia seems to be “in” right now, or so the impending “Will & Grace” reboot would have me believe.

Coincidentally, I’m exactly two months away from my 30th birthday, which seems like the perfect time to reminisce about my first few decades and reconnect with the moments and the memories that have made me who I am today. If you couldn’t tell by the introductory subhead of this post, let me confirm your suspicions—yes, this entry will serve as merely the first in a series of entries dedicated to “the past” and whatever that inevitably entails.

Don’t worry! I have no plans to fixate on myself explicitly. (I’m not going to make you read about my high school crush or the time I skinned my knee in kindergarten, if that’s what you’re thinking.) What’s ahead? Well, only I know, for sure. You’ll just have to keep checking back! Because I truly hope that you will take the time to “Stop & Smell the Nostalgia” along with me between now and October.

Living (…But Mostly Just Writing) Dangerously

IMG_0207For Christmas, my boss gave me the perfect gift/push in the right direction: “A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration & Encouragement” by Barbara Abercrombie. While I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions—isn’t each day its own new beginning?—I’ve been looking for that nudge to get me moving in my not-so-active creative writing efforts. Filled with inspirational quotes and stories, along with one writing prompt per week for the entire year, this book now stares at me each day, reminding me to get going!

On day four, the story focused on Isabel Allende. For each book she writes, she begins on January 8. (That’s today! Wondering what she’s writing now…). So, in her honor, I’ve chosen to commit to jumpstarting my personal writing goals. Of course, I feel blessed to have earned my staff writer position, as I know many former English majors who had no choice but to take on jobs outside their desired field thanks to our persistently poor job market. But now that I have gained footing in the journalistic world, I want to continue to expand my horizons and hone my creative abilities as well.

What will come of this? Who knows! But stick around, tune in, and find out.

No Speed Limit on the Information Superhighway

“Information and knowledge: two currencies that have never gone out of style.” –Mr. Wednesday, ‘American Gods’ p. 24

As a young child, reports were a nuisance. Writing something factual either required a trek to the library or an expedition into the dusty world of mygrandfather’s bookcase. There, he had an enormous collection of alphabetized encyclopedias that dated back to sometime in the1970s. Concise and convenient, these reference books supplied the content for the majority of my writing assignments up until high school, when even Encarta – a program that came free with my first Windows 95 Sony VAIO – would no longer suffice.

Now, if a child were to take one of my grandfather’s beautiful encyclopedias and cite it as a source in any level academic paper, the copyright date would immediately sound an alarm and result in said information being replaced with a more up-to-date source (because we all know how much history can change in 40 years, sure).

In a time when the “Works Cited” page was referred to as a bibliography, information wasn’t as readily available. You had to dig. It was great practice for a child like myself who always aspired to be Sherlock Holmes, Harriet the Spy, or even a less gifted Emily Eyefinger. With a constant desire for information and knowledge, much like Mr. Wednesday expresses, I would peruse my grandfather’s collection for fun, though an odd source for reading enjoyment, I’m sure. Instead, I now surf the Internet. What once took a few minutes to find as a sifted through indexes and pages now takes mere seconds to discover.

Today, our need and consumption of said information and knowledge increases at lightning speeds. Our brains have turned into the Blob – the more we consume, the greater our need to continuously consume becomes. Yet, while our brains keep growing and growing, reading and absorbing facts from anywhere possible, our heads become emptier and more hollow. Our advances in technology have made accessing information as easy as the click of a button. We have social networking sites that not only allow us to stay current with our friends’ lives, but with celebrities and the media, too. (This newfangled thing called a blog, the very format you’re reading, is just another piece of this massively expanding puzzle.) We are constantly inundated with so much information that we become overly saturated sponges laying in a puddle of information we’d love to soak up, if only we could.

The speed at which this information comes flying at us is enough to make one’s head spin. One cannot take their eyes off their computer for a moment without missing another 20 tweets posted or Suzie’s weekend plans courtesy of her Facebook status. We have gone from detectives curiously seeking knowledge, to drones that know only how to point and click their browser’s refresh button.

President Barack Obama made a similar remark during his commencement speech at Hampton University this past weekend:

“And meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

Listen to his entire speech below:

Mr. Gaiman’s writing is beyond correct – information and knowledge will always remain a desire. But, written in 2001, this readily accessible information was merely playing a supporting character that would ultimately lead to a starring role in our daily lives. Now, we gorge ourselves to the point of being obese with information. Like pie-eating contestants, we shovel in what’s put in front of our faces, but much becomes mutilated, soiling everything and creating a mess. To make life less hectic and distracting, perhaps we should simply refer back to our good table manners. Pick up your knife and fork and cut away only those chunks of information you deem desirable. The rest is simply a garnish – nice to look at but never meant to be ingested.

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