Change for a Year

Take a year. Change your life.

Month: May 2013

What’s so Great About Gatsby, Old Sport?

It’s been a Gatsby weekend. I finally saw the movie, which I loved. I reread the book for the third time, which I continue to love even more. I even made a promise to address everyone as “Old Sport” all weekend in honor of Mr. Gatsby.

Rereading the book has been a delight. Rarely does a book make me laugh in giddy joy simply by the arrangement of words on a page. I’ve written about Gatsby quite often — strange for a blog about going vegan — and as I read the book again I was trying to think what it is that makes me love this book so. In school I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but now I have to agree with many that those eight chapters and 180 pages are among the finest ever written.

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On Being a Badass and Taking Over the World

When I started this blog and got my first follower and my first comment, I thought, “Wow, ain’t that cool. Someone actually read my stuff.” Six months later I get this little notification from WordPress: seems I’ve surpassed a thousand followers on

I’d like to give a giant shout out to Discovering Garrett for being lucky number 1000! You win, well, gee-whiz, I don’t really have anything cool to give you. So I’ll just wish you best of luck on the new EP you will be releasing. Yeah, it’s scary, but someone once told me you should be uncomfortable every day, because that is the only way to grow as a person.

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Best and Worst Writing Advice – Newbie Freelance Writing Guide

The internet is filled with writers, opinions and advice. Some of it is excellent. Much of it is utter nonsense. To paraphrase my favorite favorite fictional vice president as played by Julia Louis-Dreyfuss: I’ve met plenty of people, and most of them are pretty fucking stupid.

Sometimes it seems writers spend more time writing about writing than they do actually writing. I know. You’re probably thinking, Jeff, isn’t this exactly what you’re doing right now? You got me. Guilty. The only reason I’m adding to the nonsense is because people have asked. And, well, let me be perfectly honest. I should be productive and start working on the two articles that are due Friday morning, but I’m putting that off by blogging about writing instead.

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What the hell is wrong with you, you dirty, hippie vegan?

Since going vegan, one thing has fascinated me more than anything — other people’s reactions. Who would have thought simply trying to eat more vegetables would be a cause for such concern among friends, acquaintances and random strangers. Some people even seem downright offended. “Are you serious?” they practically ask with a sneer. “Who doesn’t want cheese on their pizza?”

People being curious, sometimes idiotic, occasionally judgmental — no surprise there. That’s life. What’s odd is how no one used to be any of those things or continues to be any of those things when I swing to the other end of the spectrum. I can show up with a gallon of mountain dew, a large double cheese and pepperoni pizza, and a container full of cookies and no one bats an eye.

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Why would you ever re-read a book?

It is childish, someone once told me, to return to the same thing again and again. Children will re-watch movies dozens of times. They will want the same book read to them every night. They will listen to the same song again and again, and so I always viewed it as a childish act.

Think of all the grandeur in the world — all the books and songs and films. There’s so much greatness that no one can possibly experience it all in their lifetime. It’s impossible to read them all, to hear them all, to see them all. And it is our duty to soak up as many as we can before leaving this great world.

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The 14 Best of Def Poetry

Poetry is supposed to be spoken. I imagine a time before the internet, before television, before radio. The people there are crowded around poets, listening to their words. When I was a kid I discovered Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry on HBO. I’d watch the poets late at night, and though I didn’t understand half of them, they fascinated me.

April was National Poetry Month, and I spent the day watching some of the old clips on YouTube. I’m a bit late to the party, but oh well. Here are 14 of my favorite def poets.

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Newbie Freelance Writing Guide – How to Develop Sources

The one thing that amazes me whenever I read about freelance writing online — no one ever mentions sources. What’s a good story without a good source? In fact, think it’s so important I’m leading off this series with the topic.

I blame blogging. Or the internet. You could say it’s lazy journalism, but I’m going out on a limb and saying people just do not know any better. Say you’re a reporter. There’s a fire, and you have to write a story. That’s easy. Everyone knows what to do, even if you’ve never written anything before.

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Five Months in, 45 Pounds Down

May 1st I stepped on the scale — 326.

Ahh! When will I ever hit the 50 pound mark? Oh, you mean eating Skittles every day is a bad idea. Okay, makes sense.

But it’s not all bad news. At least I’m back on track after wallowing in the 330’s for months. I lost a whole 10 pounds this month, and, honestly, I can eat and certainly exercise a lot better than I’ve been.

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A Teacher’s Worth

“At the beginning of the year the teacher was told some of her students were gifted, and she should she expect some of them to grow by leaps and bounds,” my professor said. I was sitting in an introductory sociology course. It was the first time I’d learn of theories like expectancy and self-fulfilling prophecies.

“In reality the students she was told were gifted were chosen completely at random. They were no different from the others. But do you know what happened?” he asked. No one spoke up. “By the end of the year they were at the top of their class. The teacher raised her expectations, asked those few students she perceived to be smarter to work harder, and, amazingly, they did. The power of suggestion has amazing ramifications.”

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