A few weeks ago when I was heading to the CityBeat office I encountered a woman who changed my perspective on many things. It was one of those "Everything happens for a reason, even if you don't know the reason yet" moments.
I parked in the Elm Street lot, paid the machine my $3.50 and walked towards Race Street as usual. It was cold outside and my hands were full with coffee, a notebook, my lunch and purse.
I was running late — also as usual — when a woman approached me. Looking back now, I can’t even recall how she sounded or what she looked like.
Our conversation went something like this:
"Would you help someone in need if you could?" she asked.
"I'm selling my poems for $2 so I can have extra money to pay for my son's birthday."
"I don't even know if I have $2, hold on. I'm kind of in a hurry...Oh, wait…Here, I do have it."
I had three single dollar bills in my wallet and I handed her two of them.
"Thank you, God bless you," she said. We made our transaction and parted ways. Her poems were typed, printed and covered by a clear paper protector. She continued up Elm toward Vine Street as I turned the corner.
As I waited for the elevator, I began reading her poems. That's spelled wrong, I thought. That needs an apostrophe. It’s "to," not "too." I picked out a laundry list of grammatical and technical errors and immediately dismissed her work. I looked at her poems, but I didn't actually read them.
A few days later one of the ice and snowstorms hit the Tri-state area again. I wondered if anyone was out in this weather because I was certainly not leaving the comfort of my bed for any reason.
I don’t know why, but I began thinking about the woman who approached me on the street earlier in the week. I wondered if she was out there, in that terrible weather, selling her poems. Had she needed the $2 that badly? Did she ever get to have her son’s birthday party?
All of these thoughts washed over me. I pictured her, the image I had created of her, sitting at the library typing up the poems she had written while her son was at school.
I pictured her taking her last few dollars to buy the transparent paper protectors at the dollar store and preparing them for the next day when she would hit the streets to sell them.
A feeling of shame had overcome me. How could I dismiss what she had written because of a few errors that had no real effect on the message of her poems?
This woman had already probably sold more of her writing than me, and that’s what I am paying thousands of dollars in tuition for: to sell my words.
One of her poems is titled Determination, which is what she has and I was too blind to see that at the time we met.
I might have some of the editing experience now, but when I first started writing those were skills I didn’t possess or even care about.
I didn’t care if I needed a comma here or there, I didn’t care if I used the wrong form of “to” or ended a sentence with a preposition. I simply wanted to write.
I lost the passion behind my own words because I’ve been so worried about being technically correct all the time. And trust me, I never even end up being technically correct all the time.
That woman, whoever or wherever she is now, showed me that you don’t need a college degree to have determination. You don’t need to have the perfect sentence or know every grammar rule to express how you feel.
We, as humans, judge people all the time whether we want to admit it or not. We judge people by appearances, by the way they talk, or the way they write in this case.
She signed her name at the end of the poems, a signature that I can’t make out very well, but I want to thank her for showing me what real determination is.
Cincinnati prides itself on the local artists, musicians and writers that are bred here. We celebrate them and award them for their talent. I don’t know where this woman is now, but she, and the others just like her who might not be at the open mic nights or in galleries, deserve recognition as well.
To her I say: That was the best $2 I ever spent.
Each week our intern Amber will be exploring what Cincinnatians are interested in by scouring the local Twitter trends and reporting on what she’s found. From serious tweets to goofy hashtags, she’ll highlight what Cincy’s been buzzing about. So get to tweeting, folks.
Either you love it or you hate this zombie show — but if you hate it, just keep your stinking mouth shut. Seriously, though, now that football is over, it seems like Sundays are devoted to TWD in Cincinnati. New characters and old ones constantly dying off either give viewers something to look forward to or break their hearts each week. I think everyone can come to a consensus that Lizzie is a little, um, psycho. Plus, three new characters, from the comic, were introduced last week. What are you looking forward to in the next episode?
Tuesday, Feb. 18 was National Drink Wine Day. According to NationalWineDay.org the purpose of the day is to spread the love and health benefits of wine, so I’ll drink to that. If you celebrate wine every day, like me, check out these local wine events:
WineStation Wednesdays: Free, every Wednesday from 4-7 p.m.
at The Wine Merchant.
Wine Tasting: Free, every Friday from 4-8 p.m. at DEPS Fine Wines.
Saturday Afternoon Tastings with David: $10 monthly through July 2014, Noon-5 p.m. at Water Tower Fine Wines.
Cincinnati International Wine Festival: $40, 5:30-6:30 p.m. March 8 at Duke Energy Convention Center.
Trending, not necessarily because of his performance, but because of the emotional post-race interview he had with Christin Cooper. Miller’s brother, also a skier, passed away in 2012. Cooper pressed him with questions about his win and his brother, even after he shed tears. Where do you draw the line and become a person again instead of fishing for that next great quote? There were people arguing both sides; some say she was doing her job and others believe she went too far. As someone studying in this field, I think she was doing her job. See the interview here and decide for yourself. Miller, however, did not blame Cooper, tweeting:
Lorde won International Female Artist, Bruno Mars won International Male Artist and David Bowie won British Solo Male Artist. There might not have been any Miley moments, but they did have some fabulous fashionistas in attendance from the States. Queen Bey made that green gown her bitch and Katy Perry glowed, literally, during her performance of Dark Horse. The one thing that the Brit Awards does have on us: Awesome English accents. Cheerio!
Jimmy Fallon started this brilliant hashtag. You’ve done it too: Thought a song said something, belted it out and got funny looks from all of your friends. Trends like this are just fun:
“Dirty deeds, Dunder
“Got me feeling so fried like a cheese stick…”
“Excuse me while I kiss this guy...”
The entire Kidzbop version of “Thrift Shop”
Votto was in the running to be the Face of MLB Competition, but was eliminated by Felix Hernandez of the Mariners by a margin of just .8 percent. Votto was the reigning champ from the 2013 in the Twitter competition, but fell short this year. Although Votto might have lost, Reds fans can rejoice in the fact that Opening Day is now less than two months away. Voting continues on Twitter if you are interested, click here for the bracket.
Other trending topics: MVP, True Detective, Tornado Watch, #GhettoJeopardy, UNC, #USAvsCanada and Winter Jam.