This is Unfair

In previous years McDonald’s has had campaigns to give away books in their Happy Meals. I think the campaigns usually last about a month. This year hadn’t been any different. Except that the books are only being distributed in Canada. The most American of companies is picking Canada over the US. Justin Trudeau over Donald Trump. The cold over the not as cold. Ugh.

Fix this, McDonalds! Now.

PS: I’m pretty sure the US campaign will be later this year. 

On the Denver Public Library

The Denver Public Library is more than just a library. It offers public restrooms and has ample space to encourage any and all to enter.

It’s essentially acting as a homeless shelter during the day. No one is allowed to sleep, but anyone can enter And walk amongst the materials. There are computers, Internet access, and just about a million other things.

The library has social workers on staff. This is the kind of institution libraries should be. Bettering the lives of those in its community. I hope other library systems take note.

A Letter to 21-year-old me

Four years ago today I walked across the stage in my graduation commencement ceremony. This letter is meant to describe what happens over the four years that follow.

Dear John,

Take in every moment of your graduation day. Every one. It’s something you’ll never forget. The seventh of 8 siblings and the FIRST to graduate from college. I’m still proud of that, though Adrianna quickly became the second. The following events take place over the next four years, which won’t play out how we’d have expected.

2013

You finished school and our plan is to write. And we do. We write an entire book over the coming months. The book may not be comparable to Lee Child or Michael Connelly, but our name is on the cover. Don’t forget the hours we devoted to accomplishing one of our goals.

The book is released in the October following graduation. Again, soak in every moment of this day. It’s unforgettable. You’ll immediately start on book 2, early the following year you’ll abandon it. Nearly 4 years later and that manuscript is no closer to completion. We’ll get back to it. we will.

2014

2014 is rather uneventful until the second half of the year. Then, oh boy does it get juicy. See, during this time we have a friend. She’s someone we met in 2010 just before graduating from high school. Over the course of the four years that followed we realize how utterly fantastic she is. I’m still not sure what it means to love someone, but I know we loved her. And you’ll make the agonizing decision to tell her. It didn’t turn out as we’d have liked. The feeling isn’t mutual. But don’t worry, remember who we’re talking about here. She doesn’t laugh at you. She doesn’t throw it back in your face. She thanks you for thinking so highly of her. Doesn’t mean the feeling you’ll experience doesn’t suck, but it’s something. The worst part of this event is we essentially lose her from our life. Rather than talking regularly about anything, we stop talking altogether. I guess that’s what happens when you confess something like that and it isn’t mutual. Unfortunately, it’s 2017 and we still don’t really talk.

Immediately after that decision you’ll finally apply to your first police departments. You’ll be rejected by both. The beginning of many rejections from departments to come. Keep your head up. We’ll figure it out.

2015

This entire year is rather forgettable. In August you finally quit working at HEB to begin working at Half Price Books. You’ll meet great people and you’ll be paid to be surrounded by books. What could be better, right? Well it turns out it isn’t as great as we’d expect. But that’s not until next year to discuss.

In December you’ll get your fourth tattoo. Still waiting to add to our collection of ink.

2016

The tale of two halves of the same year. In May we’ll go on our first vacation as an adult to Washington, DC! Boy, those four days flew by and before we knew it we’re back at Half Price Books. The trip was nothing short of magical. Cherish the memories from our first vacation. It’ll only grow more distant into the past with each passing day.

In July we quit working at Half Price Books. We refuse to continue working for such a low wage and only 35 hours rather than 40. Our plan: law enforcement. You’ll immediately begin applying to departments all over the state. I don’t have the list in front of me but my memory suggests it’s around 15 departments. You’ll take written tests, you’ll be polygraphed, you’ll participate in multiple review board interviews, and you’ll devote several months to the process. But you’ll fail. Not a single department is willing to give you a chance to become a police officer. Not one. You’ll even cry a bit. It’ll suck. You’ll vow to never go through the process of applying for jobs in criminal justice again. The process is time consuming and we’ve gotten nothing out of it.

Once the law enforcement applications are completed you decide to apply for jobs you feel more qualified for. You’ll submit somewhere in the ballpark of 30-40 applications. Different companies. Different positions. And you. Some will never call. Some will invite you for an interview. Then there’s Travelers. They call. They invite you for testing. They invite you for an interview. But after all of that you have three more weeks to learn of the hiring decision. We’re up to five months without full time employment. Can we afford to wait?

2017

We turn a corner as the calendar turns a new page. We decline two job offers that would have given us more pay and hours. We do so because we’re waiting on Travelers. That opportunity is too important just to pass up before a final decision is made. The second week of January we get the offer. Travelers wants to give us an opportunity. We accept immediately and even cry a bit. It was the longest seven months of our life. But we finally had what we wanted.

Just two months after starting the new job we’ll go on vacation to Boston for eight days. It’ll be absolutely incredible. Now we’re setting ourselves up to visit many new places in the years to come.

Look, the next four years aren’t going to play out like we’d have hoped. They will be rough. You’ll be deflated and nervous. But you’ll always remain confident in yourself. You’ll never back down from what you believe in. You’ll stay true to yourself even in times of great uncertainty.

I’m proud of our growth we’ve experienced over the last four years. And looking forward to what’s to come for us in the future.

Sincerely,

The only person who knows exactly what it’s like to be you,

John Guillen

Why My Stance on Recommending Books Has Shifted Dramatically 

Any longtime reader of this blog knows one thing has remained constant throughout my years on WordPress. My stance on recommending books. For those who may not know, I’ve always said I’d never recommend books because I really have no idea what another person will enjoy. I still believe that to be true. But any time someone asks me to recommend a book going forward, I always will. Why? I’ll tell you.

I’m 25. I don’t claim to have a pot of knowledge unavailable to others. Heck, I don’t even claim to have answers to some of the most pressing questions we face. But I know the lessons I’ve learned from books. I know firsthand the power the written word can possess. I still haven’t answered my own question.

I’m most often asked to recommend books in a general category. A book that’s sad. A book that’ll cause a laugh. A book with a strong message. Those sorts of requests. I feel like I’m able to meet those requests much more than trying to guess what someone will like.

For instance, if someone asked me to recommend a book with a strong message I could come up with dozens. Different messages. Different authors. Different topics. I’m not telling anyone what they should or shouldn’t believe in. I’m telling them what I was able to take from an individual story.

What’s changed isn’t the ability to learn from books. What’s changed is my increased desire to spread messages of positivity, inclusion, and the consequences of decisions made by generations before us.

I told someone new into my life recently that I want to help as many people as I can during my brief time on earth. And I believe books are my greatest asset in achieving that constant, lifelong goal. If I can open just one person’s eyes to an event or topic, then I’m content to do so.

The Power of Social Media

So there’s this site called Twitter, right? You may have heard of it. Well Bill Gates recommended a book during a thread he posted to the site. Today the book was the top selling title on Amazon. Welp.

I won’t even tell you which book it is. Just go look for yourself. 

Amari Cooper Gained a New Fan

AND HIS NAME IS JOHN CENA!

Oh my god. I can’t stop saying that stupid phrase on here! Haha!

But the new fan is me. And I know what you’re thinking. I do. Who the hell is Amari Cooper? He’s an NFL player. But I’m not a new fan of his because of his on-field abilities. It’s because of something completely unrelated to football.

Recently he had a pickup game of basketball with some of his teammates. There was a friendly wager on the game. If one team.lost they’d have to wear clothes from the opposing captain’s clothing line for a week. If the other team lost they’d have to read books from Amari Cooper’s reading list. Cooper’s team won and he immediately began passing out books!

I think you may be wondering which books happened to be on the list, which is understandable. But that’s not the correct line of thinking! Does it matter what’s on the list? Really. Does it? I don’t think it does. He’s encouraging his teammates to take an interest in books. That’s what I believe is most important here.

For the record, I glanced at his reading list. It’s full of books discussing a wide range of topics. Nonfiction and fiction.

Bravo, Amari. I can’t root for any player on the field against the Texans. But the rest of the season I’m a fan of yours.

This is no Time to Break Rules

Tomorrow is that made up day we know as Mother’s Day. If you get someone flowers, let me just tell you you’re lazy. And about as original as a can of corn. But I don’t really care what you do or don’t do. So long as you don’t break the ONLY rule that always applies. Which rule is that?

NO BOOKS AS GIFTS.

The end.