A MinD in MoTown

Mork & Mindy.
January 11, 2010, 5:34 pm
Filed under: Argh, Getting my RANT on, The Woes of Work

It never fails:

“What’s your name?”
“Nice to meet you, Melissa.”
“No, it’s Melinda.”

My first name isn’t challenging. It’s not even terribly uncommon. And yet on a regular basis, people erroneously call me Melissa (or Missy, Belinda, Matilda, Miranda, Minnie, etc.). I’m not even going to bother explaining the difficulties people find with my rather-simple last name. Suffice it to say it’s very similar to a certain Russian satellite, which leads to numerous spelling errors and a ridiculous amount of unnecessary references to the 1950s space object.

Whenever this mistake emerges, I can’t help but question if I’m to blame for their blunder. Did my enunciation fail? Was I speaking too softly? Is it possible I said the wrong name?**

But when an individual I speak to regularly – for work, especially – commits this gaffe, my annoyance goes through the roof and a blog post erupts.

As a journalist, you are strictly taught to ensure you have the correct spelling of someone’s name at all times. To go to print with an error in that person’s name is a rather huge error. Why exactly don’t people apply this rule to life in general? It’s one thing to mispronounce a name on the first meeting, maybe even the second. But when it’s the third encounter***, you should at least verify the name before slaughtering it and possibly causing some offense.

So who else has a name that’s often mistaken for another? What’s the craziest thing you’ve accidentally been called? And do any of you regularly face this problem, as I clearly do? Depending on the situation, I might correct an individual. How exactly do you react when this happens? And in all seriousness, is there something I should be doing differently to guarantee this doesn’t repeatedly occur? Or am I merely doomed for a long life of mistaken identity?

* Feel free to substitute this conversation with Mindy v. Missy or a multitude of other mistakes people consistently make.
** I did this once. Sad, but true.
*** Or the 15th and I just said my name when you answered the phone, yet you call me “Melissa” anyway when sending a followup email less than ten minutes later…


You look like a monkey, and you smell like one, too.

Woman 1: “Ohhhh! It looks like there was a celebration here.”
Woman 2: “Yes, there was. It’s my birthday tomorrow.”
Woman 1: “Congratulations. My birthday is next month.”

Ignoring the fact that someone forewent* the traditional “Happy Birthday” for congrats – which really seems to be a polite way of saying, “Yay, you haven’t died yet!” – why exactly do people feel the need to tell complete strangers about their birthdays?

This conversation happened between a lady who just came into the office (Woman 1) and our lifestyles editor (Woman 2) only moments ago, and I found it strangely bothersome. Woman 1, who we’ll never see again, ensured that our entire news department knew about her July birthday. Does she expect a cake? Why else would she have found it necessary to share this information? Couldn’t a simple “Happy Birthday” – or in this case, “Congratulations” – suffice?

I wonder if we’re all guilty of this – unknowingly divulging senseless, meaningless tidbits with others throughout the day. Is it something subconscious? Or a simple gut reaction, like saying “nothing” after someone asks “what’s up”? Are we internally programmed to make everything about us?

Whatever the answer may be, isn’t it a bit presumptuous to assume anyone other than ourselves and maybe our parents care about the day we were born? Sure, I’m all about celebrating July as “the month-long celebration of Mindy’s birth” – so Woman 1 better back the eff** off, and you better mark July 15 on your calendar – but there has to be a line somewhere, right?

I guess I’m just babbling on about this because I found Woman 1‘s response a little selfish when, clearly, we Tribuners spent this afternoon honoring one of our own. There was zero need for her to gear the conversation her direction by mentioning her birthday. I mean, come on lady, we all have birthdays. Why must we know when yours is?

* Did you know that “foregoed” is not a word? It’s actually “forewent.” You truly learn something new every day!
** Just wasn’t feeling the actual word today. Ha.

Gay marriage in the South? Blasphemy!
March 23, 2009, 3:56 pm
Filed under: All you need is love, Argh, News Girl

So, it’s been a little while since I’ve brought up the subject of gay marriage, but an article in today’s Charlotte Observer – courtesy of the Associated Press – has allowed the topic to arise yet again on A MinD in MoTown.

Turns out that a recent Elon University poll showed that barely more than half of North Carolina adults oppose a state amendment that would specifically limit marriage to a man and woman. (Check out the full article HERE or ignore this link completely because I’m going to rant a bit about the crux of it anyway.)

Of the 620 NC residents surveyed, 50.4% said they are against such an amendment, while 43% said they would be in favor of the legislation. Looking at those figures, the state seemingly looks less conversative than assumed. However, there’s not only margin of error of plus/minus 4 percentage points, which could entirely change the results to reflect the opposite, but 6.6% of those 600+ North Carolinians either refused to respond or weren’t unsure of their answer.

Sorry, but that’s a whole lot of people who were possibly too afraid to express their true opinions via a poll. After all, didn’t similar surveys prior to the vote on Proposition 8 show that Californians would vote against the legislation? I believe so, and yet we all witnessed the true outcome only a few months ago.

These newly released NC statistics in NO WAY show that this particular southern state would vote against an anti-gay marriage amendment, despite the way the article is framed and presented by the AP and Observer. My opinion? Whatever editor let the lead and headline for this story fly despite facts that oh-so-hardly show a majority percentage in opposition to marriage limitations was clearly not thinking straightly (no pun intended).

In fact, the article continues and notes that although more than half of these individuals said they would vote in opposition of “only a man and woman” marriage terminology, they would not necessarily support gay marriage in this state. A meager 21% said they would support full spousal rights for homosexual couples. So sad, but expected, I suppose, of a southern state. Needless to say, yours truly was not surveyed.

Regardless of the poll, it turns out that in North Carolina – and this is clearly not a fact I was previously aware of – current law states that legal marriage is one “created by the consent of a male and female person.” Is it just me or does that already somewhat specify that same-sex marriages are not welcome here? I would say so, but apparently more precise wording is needed by legislators.

One day, I truly hope to look back on all of these blog posts and see a change. No longer will I be bashing government officials and religious-happy southerners for their blindness toward equality. Change is needed and I know it will come in my lifetime. I look forward to that day more than you can imagine.

Please excuse me as I rant…
January 14, 2009, 3:36 pm
Filed under: Argh, Such a quandry

For three days, I’ve been working on one blog post. That’s right, ONE. And no matter how many times I edit, add or completely rewrite it, I can’t seem to convey my original intent for the post.

And it’s mostly frustrating because I’ve had several other ideas since, but my stubborn nature is keeping me from moving to the next topic before adequately finishing and publishing this one. Although I should, clearly, scrap the subject and simply forget my feeble attempts, I just can’t seem to do so.

So folks, what should I do? What would you do? Post something considerably sub par, or toss it to the side and attempt a more feasible topic?

This one is for the fellas.
January 5, 2009, 6:56 pm
Filed under: Argh, I am THE best girlfriend ever, Just whatever

Boyfriends/fiancees/husbands of the world, this post is for you.

Don’t understand why your girlfriend got angry because you decided to play Madden 09 with the boys and drink a few beers instead of attending her work Christmas party? Can’t quite comprehend why she was disappointed you didn’t want to watch “One Tree Hill” with her on a Monday, as opposed to consuming as many 39 cent chicken wings as possible? Are you in the dark as to why in the world she’d actually care if you said “yes” or “no” to walking the dog/doing the dishes/etc. rather than simply hearing you reply with “I don’t know/care” yet again?

Well, let me give you a bit of insight… It’s because we test you. It may not be all the time, and occasionally, you may not see it coming. But it happens, often, and when it does, you need to be prepared.

We all know boys aren’t into games unless the words XBox or Playstation are involved, and yet us girls will do whatever is necessary to hear you choose us in the end. So when you are presented with an option, unless your lady seems completely sincere and 100 percent okay with the words coming out of her mouth – Helpful Hint #1: If discussing an issue through text messages, call her. You should be able to tell by the tone of her voice if what she’s saying is really the truth. – your only true option is whatever will make the girlfriend happy.

EXAMPLE: “Hunnie, it’s okay if you don’t come over tonight. I’ll just see you tomorrow instead. Go ahead, watch the football game with the guys.”

Now, outwardly, this may not look like something that requires the decision-making process, and yet it is. The beginning clearly implies prior plans with the girlfriend. But it looks as though “better” plans have arose and you’d rather chill with the boys. If you wouldn’t prefer the latter option, you likely wouldn’t have mentioned it to your lady friend – Helpful Hint #2: You could avoid this scenario entirely by simply telling your friends you have plans already and will have to take a rain check. Thus, the girlfriend doesn’t ever have to know you had a “better” option on the table at all. Needless to say, the correct response – please vary to suit your own colloquialisms and slang – would be “nah babe, I’d rather see you tonight.”

And although some fault has to be put on us females for sometimes allowing you to think there truly is an option, when we already know there is not, we’re just waiting for you to say your time would be better spent cuddling with us on the couch, as noted in the previous example.

Similarly, if we repeatedly tell you how important something is, as girls, we tend to believe that at least one of the seventeen times we say it will sink into your brain and remain there forevermore. We – stupidly perhaps – prefer to see you as the guys who once-upon-a-time swept us off our feet and would do anything to make us happy, as opposed to the nonchalant, indifferent men you gradually proved to be.

EXAMPLE: “I love our Monday nights together. It’s kind of ‘our thing.’ Remember when we used to watch my favorite show then just kiss and hold each other for hours afterwards? I really loved that.”

(Okay okay, I know that’s not exactly what your girl might say, but I’m paraphrasing here.) If you notice, girlfriend has noted the importance of Mondays at least four times. That should show how much it means to her that you spend that evening together. And if you’ve spent several consecutive Mondays and heard the same banter about how significant they are – at least to her – you should learn, eventually, that it is your day together. Thus, you ought to put 39 cent habanero chicken wings and Monday Night Football (which she may watch with you anyway ) on the back burner. The correct response would be “I know how important they are to you hun. I love our Mondays, too (yes, even if you don’t, but it’d likely make her happy to hear you say it). Of course I’ll come over.”

Shall I continue? But of course!

Despite knowing how much you loathe our friends or the things we’re interested in, it truly wouldn’t kill you boys to suck it up and deal once in a while. We understand watching “Made of Honor” isn’t exactly your idea of a good time, and it doesn’t take a genius to know that attending the ballet – not something I do, but attempting to reach the masses here – may not be an ideal way for you to spend your Wednesday night, but it’s what we would like to do and, much to your chagrin, it’s something we would like to include you in. And, sadly for you, we can recall that time you made four amazing tackles with a sprained ankle in high school, so we know you are capable of dealing with a great deal of pain for the greater good … and we ladies are the greater good.

EXAMPLE: “I know you don’t really like the people I work with, but could you please come to this party with me? Come on, it won’t be that bad.”

Look, we don’t want to be in uncomfortable situations either, but as chicks, we want to keep our guys happy. So if one of you actually tells us you want us to accompany you somewhere – Helpful Hint #3: We don’t like to hear “I don’t care” or “I don’t know” all the time. It would be nice if at least half of the time, you told us “yes” or “no” pertaining to non-sexual things, such as telling us you would like if we spent the night at your place instead of saying, for the millionth time, that you don’t care. “I don’t care” = “I don’t give a damn” and us ladies don’t always take that well. – we would do so despite the circumstances. Yes, that means going camping with you even if we hate bugs and sleeping outdoors. That means watching the hockey game with you, even if we have no interest, just to spend time with you. Shouldn’t you dudes extend us the same courtesy? Feel free to reply with “I guess so” or “If you really want me to.” The choice of words does not matter as much as your willingness to accompany us.

I could likely continue forever, providing a plethora of scenarios to you unsuspecting, obviously dim-witted males, but I suppose it’s time to wrap this up.

My point is – Helpful Hint #4: Listen to us girls once in a while. Sometimes what we say might be trivial and completely mundane. But other times, we’re hoping you might learn something. – that as chicks, we want to be on the top of your totem pole (any and all sexual inneundos completely intentional). We want to be who and what you choose not only in bed, but each day and in life.

If, as a male, you’re unwilling to commit to that kind of pressure, it’s time to remove your toothbrush from our bathroom, gather the clothes you’ve left behind on the floor, no doubt, and move on. We ladies are unlikely to change.

And before the barrage of comments come in saying “you girls should say what you mean” or “you aren’t considering us guys and how we feel” (unlikely you gentlemen feel that way, but it could happen), all of us females already realize that. We know that if we’re not dueling you in Mortal Kombat or kicking your ass in Guitar Hero, the games should cease. But for us, what we do is not purposefully done. It’s part of our human nature. And while being selfish, uncaring individuals might be part of yours, maybe it’s time to meet us in the middle. Lord knows we’ve been doing that for you boys for far, far too long already.


Note: This post is brought to you by the letter G, for Gerry, my boyfriend and this rant’s catalyst. Please blame him for any and all injuries sustained as a result. He clearly failed the test today. With any luck, he’ll make up for it shortly after reading the above.

It’s the end of the world as we know it.
December 11, 2008, 5:45 pm
Filed under: Argh, News Girl

(Oh, and contrary to popular belief, I do not “feel fine.” Thought I’d let you know.)

With the economy continuing to crumble, it seemed only a matter of time before the news industry – already suffering as a result of a changing environment and the move of information to the Internet – was further damaged. And on Tuesday, that harsh blow came via the announcement that the Chicago-based Tribune Co., which owns several papers including the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

I suppose looking at this news from an outsider’s perspective, it might be a bit shocking to see such a titan in the news industry fall to this obvious low. However, from the inside, it was, unfortunately, to be expected. It was simply a matter of time and who it would affect.

And although the reason this occurred to the Tribune Co. was, as the article’s writer put it, the “piling (of) too much debt on a company facing declining revenue,” a decrease in sales and advertising is happening to all newspapers across the country, including the publication I work at and its sister papers.

With the Internet came the relocation of news to the Web, and thus, the relocation of advertisements as well. Despite this, newspapers forged on with a hampered revenue stream – because, let’s face it folks, newspapers definitely don’t make their dollars from actual sales or subscriptions. And then the slumping economy strikes and businesses lack the faith they once had in newspapers actually helping them generate sales because the tangible object is reaching fewer people as single copy and subscription sales decrease since a newspaper isn’t a “necessity” when the paycheck gets slashed (also a result of the economy). The businesses choose to not place their ads, the newspaper loses more money, and then, within a matter of time, yet another publication disappears from the shelves.

It’s a rather sad cycle, and I’m hoping the Tribune Co. isn’t forced into the cutbacks we in the news industry have already seen – most notably in the Charlotte region at the Charlotte Observer, whose workforce was considerably parred back several months ago.

The company I work for has already sliced through the news departments of other newspapers, and it seems only logical to assume it’ll be hitting closer and closer to home in the months or years to come. Is my small, Mooresville-based newspaper in jeopardy? I’m hoping not, as we are a community paper. But the bigger publications, they’ll see the ax without notice, and then my dreams of attempting to ever find a position elsewhere in the news industry become futile as I face droves of individuals vying for the same jobs.

It’s a vicious cycle, and while I’d solely like to blame the economy, the lack of appeal the newspaper holds – an appeal that only decades ago was through the roof – is also at fault.

I suppose it’s just another day for the news girl who has big dreams and sees them crumbling before her feet.

If I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all.
December 2, 2008, 4:42 pm
Filed under: Argh, Foodage, Tis the season

I used to think I had a New Year’s Eve curse. I mean, when you spend several Dec. 31sts in a God-awful miserable mood – because you ended up with a stomach virus (1998), or because your boyfriend-at-the-time forced you to attend a party you didn’t want to go to (2002), or because you got a speeding ticket that day (2005), or hell, because your “best” friend “forgot” to pick you up and thus you were stuck home alone on NYE (2006) – you can’t help but begin to wonder if the New Year’s baby is pissing in your Fruit Loops just before bidding adieu to the previous 365 days.

And while I doubt that particular curse has broken, I’m starting to question my luck on Thanksgiving because, despite my best efforts to avoid tails-up pennies and black cats, I’ve had a fairly lousy-ish Turkey Day for a few years now… As you’ll see, one of the three was somewhat my own fault, but the other two were clearly out of my control. Anyway, onto my not-so-great tales.

Thanksgiving 2006: The genius that I am decided one week before the singular holiday ALL ABOUT EATING to get her tongue pierced. Yep, I did it the Thursday before Thanksgiving and one week later – in spite of all the ice and soft foods I consumed for six days – my tongue was still swollen, making it quite difficult to consume anything but mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. I somehow managed, but man, it was hell!

Thanksgiving 2007: This is where the shit hitteth the fan. My entire family (mom, stepdad, brother, grandparents, aunt, uncle, two kids) planned to come to MoTown to visit for Turkey Day. They had rented a house out on the lake, I purchased a 13-pound turkey for the feast and other non-transportable foods, and I had an entire five days off from both of my jobs. And then, on the Tuesday beforehand, my step-father was electrocuted. He works in the sign business and was fixing a sign in Pennsylvania. The business had their switches mislabeled so a wire he thought the power was off to was actually active and when he cut into it, he was shocked throughout his body. Another guy leaped at him and knocked him off the wire, but my stepdad’s hip broke in two places, rendering it impossible for him and the rest of my family to visit. Not only was it tough spending my first holiday without any of my family, but I was also constantly worrying about my stepdad’s condition – he needed surgery where they had to rebuild his hip (did I mention he was only 42 years old at the time?) and was in the hopsital a few weeks with a lot of rehabilitation after. For several days, it was unclear if he’d really be okay and able to walk again, and my mother kept begging me not to drive the nine hours home (which I didn’t until two weeks later) to sit with them at the hospital. It was a crappy, crappy holiday…

Thanksgiving 2008: After working 32 hours Monday through Wednesday to have Black Friday free from the newspaper (still had to work my restaurant job in the evening hours), I had a pretty sore throat for most of Thanksgiving Eve. I assumed it would go away, until I repeatedly woke up in the night wavering between freezing to death and dying of a heat stroke. The fever, cough, runny nose, etc. set in Thanksgiving morning making it yet another not-so-great holiday despite the best efforts of my boyfriend and his family to change the tone.

And here I am, still sick, completely under the assumption that there’s a black cloud looming over my Turkey Day … and damn it, I really enjoy the Thanksgiving foods! I mean, turkey and stuffing and pie, who wouldn’t enjoy that? Why, oh why, must my day be overshadowed each year with something else?

I’m already keeping my fingers crossed that next year’s festivities will bring me nothing but joy. Until then, I’m thinking of changing my favorite holidays to Valentine’s Day and Halloween. While most people mutter about how crappy theirs are, I haven’t had a bad one in … well, as long as I can remember ($10 says I just jinxed myself).