Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. - Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Editor stint is about to end and I'm....

As my stint as editor-in-chief of the Arapahoe Free Presscomes to a close, I’m finding myself already reflecting on the last eight months. It’s not quite over yet, I’ve still got one more issue to go, but today I put out the second-to-last of these babies and have some thoughts on this unexpected experience that has made a mark on me in many ways.

First, I’m glad it’s ending soon, because I honestly don’t think I can handle what I’ve had to handle much longer than a couple more weeks. The reason I say this is because the people I must work with are all now the bane of my existence. I shouldn’t say all, because there are three I have no problems with, but nonetheless I must end my dealings with the rest to keep my sanity intact.

Second, I’m sad we’ve reached the end.

I’m sad that things are not certain for me after this, and that scares me, considering the current state of the job market. I’m also sad that I am the last editor to work on the current model of the Arapahoe Free Press, an ideal journalistic model that operates the way a newspaper should. There are plans for the newspaper to become a scholarship-based deal, awarding those who participate with scholarship money to pay for their credit hours. It sounds really cool, but any true journalist will tell you that it’s nothing more than a way for the school to operate what will eventually become a propaganda tool—a newsletter. It’s sad knowing that I’m ultimately shutting the thing down.

Third and back to the subject of the people I have been dealing with: two guys from my staff, both much older than me have become a bit uncooperative in the last few weeks, making the last stretch of this journey challenging. Based on this development, one of the many things I’ve learned over the last eight months as a person in charge of a team is that you can’t please everyone when you try to do a collectively good thing. Someone always feels they’re getting shafted by a decision that affects the rest of the group positively, or at least that’s always the way it seems for me.

Finally, this opportunity was unexpected and I feel so lucky to have had it. It has given me a boost of assurance that my journalism degree has not and will not go to waste. It has also solidified my belief that all things related to writing are my calling… it is what I’m good at and it’s what I love.

So, those are my thoughts on being editor of a small and humble college student newspaper as I am left with just one more issue bearing my name on the masthead.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Aliteracy touches me in deep, personal ways...

Another blog post on the subject of names, but this time, I'm talking about my own name. Call this a rant, if you will, but I've always thought my first name was easy to spell and beyond simple to read.



Sounds and is spelled like seem, with an “R” in place of the “S.”

So, why do people insist on calling me Rem? Even after I correct them, or simply say: "Yes, this is REEM," they still call me Rem.

I mean, honestly, I wanna ask each of these individuals who make this mistake a very simple question: have you ever felt the urge to pronounce “seem,” “sem”?

You’d think with a dash in my last name, I’d have more trouble with that, but I don’t. The four letters in my first name seem (or sem, depending on how your brain processes double E’s!) to cause the most trouble when read.

And while I’m talking about uncommon name issues, let me tell you another thing that absolutely busts my hide… if I say my name is Reem, whether it’s short for something or not (which it’s not), that’s all I want to divulge, especially to the nosy stranger who finds it necessary and appropriate to ask me if it’s my “real” name or if it’s “short for something.” I’d rather you cut right to the chase and ask me what it means, its origin, etc. At least then I know you don’t just assume I’m a stack of paper, or a verb that describes an unpleasant action, or that I’m a furnace. The furnace one is new, but it has come up quite a few times lately.

So, pardon my ranting, but I am amazed at just how many aliterate people are running around—though they have the ability to read and write, they choose not to read and keep their vocabulary, spelling and grammar at an elementary level, at best. That to me is more tragic than complete illiteracy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The power in a name

I mentioned in a recent post that I was reading Stephen King’s Needful Things. I also mentioned that this was my second time reading King. Well, I’m not even halfway through the book… not even a quarter through it, as it’s quite a monster of a book at over 700 pages long, yet I am already feeling the effects. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve hated scary things and never found any reason to scare oneself on purpose for pleasure, but here I am reading the epitome of horror with substance.

Now, what I want to talk about here is not just Needful Things, or Stephen King, or the concept of horror for pleasure. It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I started feeling jumpy; of feeling the effects of horror on me. Nothing truly scary has happened in the book yet, but I feel creeped out, nonetheless.

Why is that?

Is it because of Leland Gaunt, the charming mysterious stranger who owns the mysterious shop, which the title of the book refers to? Or is it the Stephen King name on the cover? Or is it the genre that this book falls under?

So far, Leland Gaunt is a guy who hangs out in his shop and people go to him. He doesn’t go stalking people, nor has he done anything but introduce himself to the town of Castle Rock just yet. The fact that his smile is described as predatory, that his hands are described as cold and hard as stone, that his nails are yellow and long—all of these things are creepy, but they’re hardly grounds for me to feel jumpy when I’m in a room by myself.

I suppose I’m being a little (or maybe overly) philosophical, but really, this is interesting, because as good a writer as he is, would Stephen King have the same effect on a reader if his name wasn’t synonymous with the horror genre? Does describing someone’s creepy physical attributes have the same effect on a reader as the image of that character stalking someone with an axe in hand if you had no preconceived notion of just how scary the story could get? My answer to those two questions is no. I feel that the power of King’s name is one of, but the biggest of the factors that make his books as successful and exemplary for the genre as they are and have been for 25 years.

I still don’t care for the horror genre, but a good story is a good story. Now, if I can just avoid the jumpiness, I think I’d enjoy Needful Things a lot more than I already am.