The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Blog About a Blog

I begin my Sunday mornings by experiencing the intimate details of other people’s lives. I have a weekly date with

I’m about to become a doctor…but I still giggle at the word nipples.

I think Amish men are sexy.

There are two kinds of secrets: those we keep from others and those we keep from ourselves. This is the motto of PostSecret, which is an outlet for both kinds of secrets. PostSecret is an anonymous and ongoing blog community in which people from across countries and across cultures, cross the barriers of privacy and send in their own intimate details via postcards to founder, Frank Warren. Hundreds of thousands of people have fashioned their secrets into postcards using pictures, drawings and other forms of artwork, with the hopes of “getting something off their chest”. They find delight and relief in sharing something so personal with total strangers.

Five years later and I still wonder why we didn’t kiss in the park that night.

I’m almost 40 years old and have an unhealthy reliance of my magic 8 ball.

Over two years ago I discovered PostSecret and was instantly curious, intrigued, riveted and like over three hundred million other people, completely hooked. I have yet to miss my Sunday date. There are around twenty new posts every week; and every week as I read the new secrets I am continually surprised by the fact that I can always relate to at least one. This sends me the message that I am not alone; there is someone out in the world that feels exactly as I do in this moment. It immediately eliminates any feelings of isolation, really creating a sense of community. In a society where, typically, technology drives a wedge between human interactions, PostSecret goes against the norm and actually draws people closer together through this ability to relate to one another on such a personal level. I think this camaraderie is a little something extra Frank didn’t anticipate when he created PostSecret. As I read some secrets I can’t help but giggle aloud. Other secrets literally make my heart hurt for the author. This beautiful site makes me realize that every person has one secret that can break my heart. If we could all remember this there might be a little more compassion and tolerance in the world.

My friends don’t know that I am dying.

You don’t know this…but if you hadn’t stayed up until 4:55am with me I would have killed myself. Thank you.

I have yet to join this community by posting; I guess I’m still keeping secrets from myself. Throughout the week I find myself looking forward to these few minutes Sunday morning when I can ignore my life, and enter the lives of other people. Reading others secrets is the first step in admitting your own, and posting your secret is the first step in initiating the possibility of revealing them to those closest to you. We all have secrets, and whether we are keeping them from others or keeping them from ourselves, they still help define us. Whether I share my secrets or bury them is for me to decide.

As for PostSecret and Frank, the message is simple: FREE your secrets and embrace who you are.

As for me, I am going to continue enjoying other people’s sad, funny and inspiring secrets as I eat my Sunday morning bowl of Lucky Charms.

The iPad

“What’s that dude doing holding a giant iPhone?” This was my first reaction to the picture to the right when it popped up on my AOL news page.

After watching the demo tape that accompanied the picture, my questions were answered. This man was Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple, Inc. and this giant iPhone was the ‘revolutionary,’ new, iPad.

“It’s so much more intimate than a laptop and so much more capable than a smart phone,” says Jobs, as he demos the new iPad, flipping his fingers around effortlessly on the nearly 10in. touch screen. The lightweight tablet has both Bluetooth and built in WiFi. [And among many cool features allows you to, thank god, add apps.]

I could begin by commenting on the horrifying nature of the name iPad alone, but what bothers me most about his description of this ‘new invention’ is that, since when do we need to have an “intimate” relationship with a piece of technology? Why does Jobs think he’s being so innovative by introducing a tablet that is essentially a large iPhone that doesn’t make calls? And if I have a laptop, why would I need or want to pay $500+ for an iPad?

Let me begin with the precursor that I am a big fan of Apple. I own both an iPod and a MacBook, but I must say I drew the line when it came to purchasing the iPhone, which in my opinion is a cool piece of technology, but a crappy phone. This is a conclusion I came to only after my 24-year-old brother tried to convert me into becoming an iPhone lover.

When I borrowed his phone for a few days to ‘test drive’ it, I learned a few valuable lessons. One, the iPhone is very fragile. This was the third iPhone my brother owned, having broken his first two by simply dropping them (a weird concept for me, because my Verizon Samsung has survived both a cycle in the dryer and a tumble or two down multiple flights of stairs), and so I was informed to be VERY careful with it.

Two, if you like to drop calls the iPhone is for you. During my ‘test-drive’ I had to re-call almost every person I attempted to talk to. Thus, I’ve concluded that the iPhone is not really a good phone at all because I typically use my phone to make calls, not drop them. I’m not sure what iPhone users use it for: playing Paper Toss or using the iFart app maybe?

I could just be biased about my hatred for the iPhone perhaps because I have a problem with anything touch screen in general. I feel they are unreliable especially with phones, whose touch screens can be easily be broken if dropped and then the phone is rendered unusable. Plus, you have to pay a hefty fee to purchase a new iPhone.

The last thing I learned about the iPhone is that texting becomes a very frustrating experience. Now, I don’t consider myself to have abnormally fat fingers, but apparently they are too big to find the correct keys on the minuscule keypad the iPhone offers. As a result, I created jumbles of incomprehensible sentences when texting instead of the ‘hey wats up’ I meant to type. I guess my point in all this, is that although the iPhone offers a lot of cool things, there are many things it does not offer---and these are necessary things---like a phone making calls.

So, what promises that the iPad will be any different? If it’s anything like the iPhone it won’t be durable enough to make it worth the hundreds of dollars spent for both the tablet itself and its usage fees.

Jobs thinks we are going to find the iPad so revolutionary because it has a big screen that we can see the whole page of internet on (I think I’m doing that on my computer right now?) and …gasp!... we can touch the screen and read books on it! (can’t we do that on a Kindle?) But what about what we can’t do on it, like open multiple tabs at once, watch HD videos or take pictures? Aren’t these things important when the iPad is supposed to be replacing a netbook or laptop?

But who am I to say that the iPad won’t sell or doesn’t have a market? Apple is an undeniably successful company whose technologies take over mainstream culture, even despite the recession. What I do know is this: I certainly do not plan on buying an iTampon… I mean iPad.

-Courtney M. Myers

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Simple Life

I have a thing for sepia-toned photographs of children wearing adult clothing. In many such pictures, a young boy and girl are shown in love. Despite knowing that their love is obviously faked and staged for camera’s sake, the visual of two fresh-faced children locked in an embrace or puckering up for a bird peck enigmatically incites reverie. We know their love is counterfeit, but nevertheless, its representation catapults us back in time to a place where life was simpler and more honest—to a time before requisite affectations and trendy neck chokers.

Many college-aged adults prefer to decorate their rooms with posters of half-naked women (or according to my women’s studies teacher: “someone’s mother or daughter”), beer bottles (same teacher: “symbols of phallic oppression”) and other assorted visuals of debauchery that most of us are well acquainted with. Not me. I don’t possess the necessary party credentials to pull off such a décor. It would be like Tyra Banks having a room that wasn’t anything but pictures of Tyra Banks. It would be false and unseemly.

I have several posters in my room: Thelonious Monk performing at Expo 67 in Montreal, Radiohead’s Ok Computer album cover, a blown-up Trainspotting screencap; but my crowning piece situated above my mantle is a 36” x 24” photograph of Kim Anderson’s “forget-me not.” I know what you’re thinking. The girls come to my bedroom in droves.

You’re right... if you include my mother, female cousins, and the French nanny who lives next door.

I’m not a sensitive lad of the “emo” persuasion nor am I trying to be hip and ironic; I just think it’s a cool image that’s fun to wake up to in the morning. It helps keep me grounded and reminds me at the start of each day that life need not be performed at a breakneck pace to be enjoyable. Living life to the fullest is oftentimes living life to the simplest.

I imagine in this picture that the couple met while working at a diner in Milford, Delaware. He was a short-order cook who specialized in elaborate omelets (so long as customers didn’t elaborate beyond eggs, cheese and sausage) and she a waitress who was charmingly miserable at her job. He was two years older and two inches taller and could have easily courted Deborah, the diner’s pretty hostess who already had a luminous front row of adult teeth, but something about Susie’s magnificent incompetence and unprepossessing beauty enamored him. They married six months later and purchased a small two-bedroom home in Norwood, Ohio. He got a job in Cincinnati selling medical equipment and she could not have been prouder. Every morning before he boarded the train bound for the city, she would plant a fatty wet one on him, which he never wiped off. Their days were always simple, always fulfilling.

~Ian M. Johnson

"Lying has its appeal."

Lying to avoid confronting certain situations or to get what we want may seem easy enough. But apart from the ethical repercussions, things will undoubtedly unravel sooner or later. “Lying has its appeal. At least in the short run. It staves off conflict. Buys time to save face.” The first sentences of the Introduction to The Truth About the Fact: International Journal of Literary Nonfiction certainly hit a chord with me.

A few of my friends and I planned a short trip to the playground of adults-Las Vegas, Nevada. I did not tell my mom about this trip; in fact I lied to her and told her I was coming back to Los Angeles a week before school started in order to work.
We set out on the four hour or so drive on a brisk Tuesday morning and from that moment everything seemed to go off without a glitch. Once we arrived we had three days of fun in this city of lights and extravagance where nothing ever closes; in this city, this mirage in the middle of the desert. On the fourth day it was time to drive back and encounter reality. Regardless of how much fun I was having, not once during the trip did I forget that I had lied to my mom. I figured if I could get this trip by her and go back to my regular life of work and school everything would be fine. Even then I knew that was too easy.

The day before school started everything began snowballing. My car got a flat tire, and left me as a commuter student without transportation for a day. The following day I received a text message from my brother informing me that the university was asking back for a reimbursement they had given me last semester. At that moment I had to be honest about spending a small amount of the money on my trip to Las Vegas. My intention was to return the money to my account as soon as possible.
Then one last thing rounded off what may have been one of the hardest weeks. When filling out my Application for Degree I took one last look at my record of units taken, at least I thought it was one last look. At that moment I caught something no one else had noticed in any of my advising meetings. I was three upper division units short of the amount required to graduate. This came as a complete surprise to me since I felt I had done everything on my part and even though I had switched majors I was advised and told that I would be completely finished by the end of the spring semester.

With everything that was going on, lying to my mom was especially in the back of my mind. The guilt was affecting me more than anything. As the journal’s introduction mentions in reference to lying, “We are unwilling to pay the price for its unseen damages. Hidden in print so fine that it can’t be read. Only felt. When we are alone.” That is exactly how I felt, and now I not only had to tell my mom that I had one more class to take in the summer but also that I had lied to her and gone to Las Vegas. I ultimately told her the truth for my own sanity but also with the hope that she could see that I am not completely irresponsible, that I want to be a reflection of who she has raised me to be. After these experiences and as the tone of disappointment in my mom’s voice plays back in my head I have learned to reconsider the appeal of lying.

-Yvette Olguin

America, the Economy, and Where I Belong

This past semester while studying abroad in London, I took a solitary stroll to Westminster Abbey where I stumbled upon the grave of D.H. Lawrence. Seeing his name inscribed in the stone, I thought about some of his eloquent words: “We make a mistake forsaking England and moving out into the periphery of life. After all, Taormina, Ceylon, Africa, America – as far as we go, they are only the negation of what we ourselves stand for and are: and we’re rather like Jonahs running away from the place we belong.
When I first decided to study abroad in England, I believe my decision was based largely on this desire to discover this “periphery of life.” I didn’t think I was abandoning or forsaking anything, certainly not my home and certainly not America. I knew I’d be back (mainly because I had already purchased the ticket for the return flight). But in retrospect, my decision to leave home for a few months had more to do with my desire to leave my old, routine world behind than to experience a new one. I started to get that very feeling when I began to ignore phone calls from my parents, not because I didn’t miss or love them but only because I didn’t want depressing reports of what was going on at home. With London right outside my window, I didn’t want to hear about my mother’s failing small business. Or the fact that my father was fired from a job that he had been working at for the last twenty years. And I certainly didn’t want to know about the possibility of my parents having to sell our beautiful suburban home (because in an economy where home values have declined, that’s just depressing).
So instead, I willingly and completely immersed myself in the British culture – went to pubs, hopped on the tube, and even started taking “holidays” instead of “vacations.” And while taking a class on British visual media, it was easier to distance myself and to see things, even America, from the British perspective. And so it was all too convenient to ignore my family’s strife and struggles and America’s strife and struggles with so much water and land between us.
After returning home this last December, I have watched my father who has had a job every day for the last forty-seven years, ever since he first immigrated to this country at the age of 16, wander around the house not knowing what to do with himself. And I have also seen the extent to which my mother’s business is still somewhat in decline. And so I know that radical and near instant change I had hoped would magically take place in my absence has not occurred. It was almost as if I wished I could have gone abroad so that everything could be magically transformed and changed for the better once I returned – myself, my family, the economy. As Obama addressed in his State of the Union, 1 in 10 Americans cannot find work and businesses have indeed shuttered and so for many Americans, change has not come fast enough. President Obama noted that State of the Union addresses have come during period of prosperity and tranquility, war and depression, great strife and great struggle and this is certainly a time of great struggle.
But a few things have changed. My parents have learned how to fight setbacks. America is learning how to fight setbacks. And I guess I have changed and I too am learning to fight setbacks. Though I will always love England and plan on returning, I know that England was for D.H. Lawrence what America is for me. True, Europe is the place where I want to be but for now, America is where I belong and I’ve learned I can’t run away from the place I belong.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Virtual Reality Relationships

How has the internet affected relationships?
In today's society, surfing the internet is almost inevitable. With the help of social networks such as MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, and BlackPlanet, people find it easier to communicate with friends, meet new ones, or even meet a potential beau. Also, with this new technology, people are able to communicate with their loved ones from across the globe. For example, when I went to Europe for 4 months, I did all I could to prevent high cell phone costs for me and my boyfriend. This included using Skype, AIM, and the typical email accounts. This helped us to keep in touch at all hours and places.

In addition to preserving relationships, the internet can also be used as a tool to demolish them. With these social networks, people find it easier to cheat on their significant others, and keep secrets from them. While this can all be done without the internet as well, the internet makes it more accessible. As a result of this, the internet contributes to the growing number of disloyalty in relationships, break-ups, and other issues that arise. Another factor in the dismembering of relationships is the fact that it is easier to find out information of almost anyone in the world with the internet. Therefore, secrets can turn public at the simplest press of a button on the keyboard. While doing research on Yahoo! Answers, I found someone who had found out that their wife was cheating on him and they are getting a divorce. He found this out by discovering her secret MySpace page with her “boyfriend” all over it.
Even with break-ups, social networks can make moving on a more difficult task that it truly is. "Facebook prolongs the period it takes to get over someone, because you have an open window into their life, whether you want to or not," says Yianni Garcia of New York, a consultant who helps companies use social media. "You see their updates, their pictures and their relationship status." However, with all social sites, a person can always “unfriend,” “unfollow,” or block people to save themselves the heartbreak.

Currently, I am back in the U.S. I have a Twitter and a FaceBook and my boyfriend has a Twitter, MySpace, and a Facebook. I have a Twitter and FaceBook for the purpose of communicating with friends, and my boyfriend needs his social networks for promotion purposes. Given that we see each other a lot and he does not really use his sites that much for personal usage, both of us like to keep our relationship matters private. While I enjoy knowing what my boyfriend is doing away from me, having happily been in a relationship for the past four years, I don’t mind him and me not communicating via the internet. There is no purpose. Many people, by looking at our individual web pages, would not know that we were in a relationship unless they actually delve into our photo albums and connect the pictures to the guy in my friend’s list. On Twitter, we follow each other, but do not recognize each other as our spouses. However, we do reference each other and talk about some of the same events we have attended. Therefore, if someone were to follow both of us, they would know that we were talking about each other.
By keeping our relationship less virtual and public, I believe that my relationship with my boyfriend has avoided some of the arguments that many couples have had about having a public presence on the internet. While some couples are content with having their relationship plastered across their social networks, marked with “♥s” and what not, my relationship has survived this long without the unnecessary virtual communication on a social network.

What is your take on the role of internet involvement in relationships?