Cultural Sensitivity

Governor’s school was a program which accepted grade schoolers into a Summer program that was intended to focus on some science or art. Well I hated art at the time and science was boring so I applied for the Governor’s school of international studies. I was astonished when I was accepted, but when I reflect upon it now… perhaps my acceptance was given once they realized my nationality. I probably had to fulfill that portion of the pie graph, but regardless the reason I was accepted into this highly selective program. I’m obviously a genius.

The program, other than the fact it was during the Summer, was actually a lot of fun. That would account for the reason why at the age of 36 I still remember the memories I made there. I can’t help but remember one incident that stood out and is the cause of my title “cultural sensitivity.” It was during this program that I learned how sensitive some people could be and I can now firmly attribute that to culture. And unless you spend time living in each and every single culture, you’ll never get why those people feel that way. And yes, I said “those people” because all of you ARE those people to me.

The group was excited because we were going to a baseball game in Memphis and it was a chance for some of the attendees from around the state to see our lovely city. I snickered when they said “lovely city” during the morning announcements, but held my tongue about what I really thought of M town. This was a hard thing to do for a tenth grader, but I was learning that sometimes it wasn’t always the wisest thing to open your mouth. Besides, the evening out would allow me to talk to her or her. The Summer had been eventful so far!

As everyone got onto the buses and filled in the rows, I looked for Jay and found him holding a seat for me near the back. The baseball field wasn’t far and even though I wasn’t overly fond of baseball, it was good to be out of the dorms of U of M campus. It had been fun living away from home for the Summer, but the rules and nightly curfew were annoying. So was the director. I noticed he seemed to be pretty lame about everything and I think he noticed me noticing him. I wasn’t sure if our mutual notice was a good thing or not.

The game went about as planned. Baseball games tend to do that. There was a first inning and after that a second one. Surprisingly a third followed. I was utterly bored by the fourth and wondered why anyone even invented this stupid game when Jay touched my arm and motioned for me to follow him and a group of our friends who had started heading towards the food stands. We were having a good time eating some great food, I was drinking a slurpee and chatting with someone cute when Jay turned around a noticed a couple rides setup. We started walking towards them when I noticed the No Food sign.

I wanted to go for a ride as well, but I had my drink and it still had some ice at the bottom that I wanted to finish. I turned around and saw one of the instructors of the Summer program, a guy I actually had spoken to a few times and felt was on good terms with. I asked him if he would hold my cup and he said “yes,” nodding his head in understanding. He wasn’t American, but it was clear we understood each other so I ran off to get on the ride with the group. I quickly forgot about the cup and became focused solely on the good time we were having.

As the groups were beginning to get on the bus and I was standing in line with my friends, I suddenly felt a hand grab my neck. It jerked me backward by the shoulder and I was suddenly face to face with the director and he was angry!

“What did you say to Andy!” he yelled at me as I tried to process what was going on and what he was even asking me. I felt and heard my friends also confused coming up to see what was going on.

“Dude… what are you talking about? I didn’t do anything to Andy!” I half yelled back, but because I was in the tenth grade and my voice was still maturing it kind of came out as a squeak. It sounded like a roar to me though!

“He said you gave him some trash. You need to go apologize to him!” he yelled as he half pushed half shoved me towards a waiting Andy near the end of the line.

I began walking towards him…

“Hey Andy, I am sorry for whatever I did! … What did I do?” I immediately asked when I saw him.

“You gave me trash and then you just run off!” Andy retorted angrily.

I was a little shocked and stuttered a second before replying “well it wasn’t trash, I meant to come back and get it. I’m sorry again!”

Andy and I weren’t friends for the rest of the Summer. The director never liked me either and I learned a valuable lesson about cultural sensitivity, asking for favors, not forgetting about cups, how distracting friends can be, and that baseball does indeed truly suck. I would also like to note that it is possible when that director jerked my shoulder it ruined any chance I had of becoming a professional baseball pitcher even if I had and will never pitch a game in my life.

-Opinionated Man

44.1

@smokendust

Writing Advice

Sometimes people email me for writing advice and I don’t give it. The reason is because my writing is very poor and I have been known to post anything. There are many bloggers that write perfect posts weekly. They spend time editing, editing again, and re-editing the editing they’ve done and I applaud that. We need great posts out there!

Then there is me.

I use my blog as a sounding board for what I am doing, thinking, or considering to think or do in the moment. It is my twitter, my facebook, my Myspace (hahaha), and my blog. I treat it that way and because of that I turn readers off daily who are looking for a professional blog. Some explanation for why my numbers are what they are.

People judge your blog off one post. You have one post to impress upon them what you are trying to accomplish not only in the blogosphere, but in life period. Go.

Depending on what post you land on with my blog… you might have incredibly different impressions of me. One post I am a pathetic, grieving adoptee that might jump off a cliff one day. Another post I am an arrogant jerkoff that is really annoyed his fries were cold because he paid the extra $0.75 to super size them. That is blogging though and we all live under that same pressure and requirement when it comes to new readers or readers in general.

I don’t write for perfection here. Sometimes I flex and try new things, but that was mainly during my graveyard shifts when I was really, really, truly really bored. I am not bored right now. I am super fucking busy with my day job and everything lately either seems to be great or really fucking awful! But that is life.

When I was in elementary I tested for advanced English classes and was put into that program early. Because we were such geniuses no one taught us how to use commas properly or where the fuck this symbol ; goes in a sentence. I am pretty sure it has something to do with the number of words on each side and a need to balance the sentence out…

I don’t know how to write well. I only know how to write and we all know how to write.

Just write. If you want to learn proper punctuation or grammar take some classes. Don’t ask me, spellcheck just told me grammer is spelled grammar. I will say that when it comes to the creative writing courses I’ve taken I have grown wary of the advice of too many people. Sometimes we have to retain a little bit of ourselves, that rawness that makes our writing our own. Sometimes those rules, those restrictions that can so easily be broken by the power of a blog, are meant to be broken to allow us a voice.

At least I hope that is true because that is what I live by daily here.

-Opinionated Man

44.1

@smokendust

Perfect

In a perfect world everything would be perfect.

Imperfect beginnings would have perfected endings.

Seemingly meaningless things would always make sense.

Unicorns would never die and my pen would never dry.

I could be perfect without even trying.

Before dying.

Why does my perfection always lead to an ending?

A perfect ending all the same.

J.C.C.

44.1

@smokendust

Neat Freak

I don’t consider myself a neat freak technically. I have some OCD qualities in my personality, but I think being “clean” is just in me. I was brought up to be clean and lived in an orderly home. My mother would ensure we made our beds and I started earning my allowance around nine by doing chores and my own laundry. Warm warm white, cold cold colors.

I’ve never been able to understand how some people can just walk by a mess and not see it. They literally don’t see it. I’m not sure what they see, but it isn’t the half eaten container of McDonald’s French fries, the Pepsi cup, or the hamburger wrapper. I see a mess that needs, demands actually, to be cleaned up. Some people will just see the table for days.

My life is a constant pausing of time and whatever I was doing to bend over and pickup some item on the floor. It might be a lego piece, a jacket or shoe that is “NOT MINE! IT IS HERS!” from my little girls, or maybe even a small piece of plastic from a fruit cup that the vacuum cleaner won’t pickup.

Those are all possible reasons why my back hurts today.

-Opinionated Man

@smokendust

 

Elitch Garden

We took the girls to Elitch for the first time there! Their uncle Pheng took them a few months back, but I had never been. I know, I don’t talk about my kids much and I try to keep the details of my family life private.

You can’t not share a theme park experience! It was so fun! We were one of the first people in the gate because 10:30 am when the park opens is LATE to a family with young kids. It was a Thursday so the lines were nonexistent and we did the barrel river ride where the water shoots up in front of you and then you get soaked! I’ve never done that ride before and I felt like a kid from the thrill. The girls were a little less thrilled and closed their eyes…

We attempted to slow it down by trying an airplane ride in the kid area, but I have grown white knuckled in my old age. I was scared. We were almost totally sideways in the air and I felt the bar move up a bit and the damn seat made a pop sound. Nearly gave me a heart attack as I held Gracie close to me. I actually started counting how many times the plane went up and down, mathematically figured how many times they could economically afford to do it each ride and not break it, and prayed to the few gods left that listen to me that we would “land soon.” I’ve been on bus rides in Seoul that were less harrowing of an experience.

After that we, mostly me, decided we would try calmer things. We headed to the Ferris Wheel and made it to our first line which only had about ten people in it. Not a line at all. My girls watched as the wheel spun around and people began to get off cart by cart as the attendant loaded new groups in. She asked each person in line how many were with them at each turn. As the last group was getting off, she turned and asked the three girls in front of us, I assumed were together, if they were ready to get on. The older of the three, probably around sixteen years old, grabbed her friend and they got on leaving behind a girl that looked like she was the same age as my daughters.

“Are you with someone?” the Ferris Wheel worker asked her with confusion on her face as she looked around for her mom. I was also looking around because I had been paying attention and was concerned.

“No, I’m by myself,” she said in a determined voice.

The park employee looked confused and finally began replying “let me ask these people I just let on if you can ride with them…” when I cut in.

“She can ride with my daughters,” I quickly said. “It is no big deal.”

The worker looked thoroughly relieved and she even let us skip the line and get on first. As the ride started off with a stutter and we got our first glimpse of beautiful mountains and downtown Denver, we came to find out this little girl was just going into the second grade and was here with her mom and grandmother who were over “there.” I smiled and watched as my girls befriended her like I knew they would and it was at that moment I remembered my new fear of heights…

As we got off the ride my wife touched my shoulder and said “that was very kind.”

To me it wasn’t about being kind. It was the right thing to do and I only hope if my children were ever in a situation alone, some kind adult would help them as well.

-Opinionated Man

44.1

@smokendust

1

Well things are moving along here. I went out with the guys last night, had a few drinks at a spot called Gordon Biersch brewery and we were able to catch up. I don’t have many friends since moving out here in Colorado because I am busy being a father, busy working, and busy not out trying to make new friends. It is nice that I have a small circle and an even smaller circle I feel obligated to keep up with. I am very bad at keeping up with people and have friends left behind in many states I haven’t talked to in years. Life happens. We move on.

There are whispers again about a promotion. Now you’ll recall I was hesitantly optimistic about this “promotion” oh… six months ago. Now it may finally happen. I’m going to hold the fireworks though and I honestly have no idea if or what the promotion will be. I work very hard at my day job because when I do things I do them well. I don’t half ass shit and I can do more than one thing at once. You’d be surprised how many people can’t actually do that… more than one thing at once. And yet this is one of the most common traits people brag about “I’m such a multi tasker.” Ok, let’s define that… doing four things at “once” and leaving two undone and one fucked up at the end isn’t multi tasking. It is sucking ass and trying to do more than you can obviously handle.

I have this little buzz in the back of my head that keeps bugging me to write something longer than a post. But I have a ton going on as I am sure all of you do.

I taught both my daughters how to ride bikes in the past two months! I am thrilled and I can’t believe how proud I was. You’d think no one had ever ridden a bike before. I was so happy I went out and got a bike for myself!

We also went and got one for my wife.

The first day we rode all around the neighborhood and it was exactly how I pictured it.

It was perfect.

-OM

44.1

@smokendust