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Location: Youngstown, Ohio, United States
Interests: music, writing, church, family, Colin, C. S. Lewis, flowers, my stuffed animals
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|A couple entries ago, I explored my journey as a writer in terms of personal writing. It occurred to me after I wrote that entry that a considerable amount (okay, this is a tangent, but note that I didn't use the words "great deal" here -- I am SO sick of that phrase) of my writing has been for school. So I'm going to take a nice LONG (and probably horribly boring) crack at it here. |
After completing first grade, I reflected back and noted that the only thing I had learned in terms of reading and 'riting was the difference between vowels and consonants. (To be fair, I also learned to write answers in complete sentences, but I found this practice to be thoroughly ridiculous. I can still remember the handout that I'd gone ahead and started to work on with answers like "yes," "no," and "a purple bicycle," only to have to erase my perfectly sensible answers and replace them with "Yes, she did like ponies," "No, his cardigan was brown" and "Sally found a purple bicycle." As if the context weren't there. Waste of time. Alright, enough tangents.) I learned to read and write before I started school, so the only curiosity that kindergarten had sparked in me was wondering why, when we learned the "letter songs," all the letters were "Mr." except for A, E, I, O, and U, which were all "Miss." First grade cleared that up.
Second grade rocked in every possible way. My beloved teacher, Miss Stay, gave each of us a journal at the beginning of the year, a red folder with several sheets of looseleaf paper secured with brads. I still have it. The first few entries were clearly assigned: one describes my summer vacation, another my "high-flying ride on the tail of a kite," and a couple focus on Christmas. Most of the pages, however, are filled with my own work, including my first "novel" (there was nothing I wanted more than to write a 100-page book, and I did it). I wrote in it at home, at school, in the car. I loved it.
Neither of us needs to fear that I'll continue the practice of devoting a paragraph to each grade level, because my memory fades significantly at this point. There are a few points of clarity -- a local writing contest I won in sixth grade, some poems I wrote for my eighth grade English class, etc. But let's fast-forward to high school.
I took advanced English classes all the way through good old CHS. (In 11th grade they were rechristened "honors" and in 12th grade I ended up taking AP, which for some goofy reason I originally didn't want to do. My heart abounded with gratitude for that scheduling conflict once I got college credits for my trouble.) For the most part, those classes focused on reading rather than writing. I can barely think of anything I wrote in ninth grade -- an alternative ending to a short story, maybe? In tenth grade we did write term papers, on any topic of our choosing, so I wrote about brain dominance. In eleventh grade we put together some kind of -- literature portfolio? Only a couple of the items in our anthologies had to be original, though I suppose we probably had to generate some analyses of the rest of the contents. I wrote my tweflth grade term paper on symbolism in The Great Gatsby. It was decent. Certainly not brilliant.
Throughout elementary school, I maintained that I wanted to major in English, or maybe journalism, and be a writer. By the time I was done with high school, I'd abandoned that dream. At my high school, the "smart people" did well in advanced math and science classes. Those same smart people also enrolled in advanced English, but that was just a matter of course -- a necessarily evil to earn more "quality points" towards class rank. If I were to construct a Venn diagram (thanks to my HS education, it's easier for me to think in terms of Venn diagrams than paragraphs, woohoo) with "advanced English people" and "advanced science/math people," the intersecting area would contain ALL the advanced science/math people. The same could not be said for the advanced English only people, and few of them graduated at the very top of the class.
To be frank, most of my high school English classes were simply not that captivating. On the other hand, my science and math classes were awesome. My favorite teacher taught AP Calculus. Physics was amazing (and so was the gentleman who sat behind me ;). I thought Chem 2 was phenomenal. English? Eh. Extracurricularly, I did write and edit for the school newspaper, The Cardinal. I enjoyed it, and even won some awards at YSU's "Press Day." But I just wasn't sold.
I started college with science major, two science minors, my 6 required hours of English credits fulfilled via AP, and no intention of taking any English classes. That didn't last long (well, except for the fulfilled requirement). I decided to minor in English early enough to schedule a literature course for my second semester. As I wrung my hands in consternation over one of my 3 major changes throughout my tenure at YSU, I considered pursuing a degree in Professional Writing and Editing, but it didn't happen. (And to think, I picked finance that time! For shame!) I ended up with a major in Computer Information Systems and a minor in English. If I had it to do over, I would've double majored in those fields, but as it went, I was lucky to get out in four years with just one major, let alone two (courtesy of my chronic indecision).
My English -- er, "English Studies" -- minor involved taking a hodgepodge of courses: one survey of British and American literature, an American lit course, British lit course, and various others (I ended up taking two professional writing, two linguistics, and one mythology course). Of course, all of these involved writing in some capacity. Literature classes required, of course, analyses, as did mythology (I applied Joseph Campbell's monomyth to the Star Wars saga, har-har [not to be confused with Jar-Jar, UGH!]). In my professional writing class I wrote...a memo? Wow. And a paper on information literacy. And for my "author's choice" project, I designed a spoof web site for "As-Seen-On-TV" products. Thank Heavens I have that available for my porfolio. In professional editing, I teamed up with a couple other girls to design a newsletter on -- that's right -- job prospects for English majors. I don't think I wrote much of anything for my introductory linguistics class; for sociolinguistics, I did a study on directives (requests) and gender.
I almost hate to say this, but the only English class I took in college that inspired me writing-wise was my Circles, Genres, and Movements in British Literature course. I hadn't expected that. Basically, this course allows the professor to pick any genre in British literature that he or she would like to explore for the term. My professor picked contemporary British poetry. I was dismayed when I looked at the YSU Bookstore web site and realized this. But, it was my last semester; I had to take a British lit class to get my minor, and this was the only one available. Plus, I'd already had the professor for my very first college English course and had liked him. So, of course I stayed put, despite my prejudices against modern poetry.
I sure was glad. Turns out that there's a lot more to poetry than I'd ever thought, even when I used to write it. And, turns out that contemporary British poetry, though certainly different from that of the past, generally does still follow conventional patterns, using things like iambic pentameter and (gasp!) even rhyme. I was enthralled by the hours one could spend exploring a poem, and the layers of beauty and sadness and truth so tightly packed into a few words. And I think I finally understood that the writing process, like the analysis process, if often not something that one can do quickly and easily, and that it should be a labor of love. For the first time in years, I dreamed of being able to write -- not term papers, not newspaper articles, but literature.
Easier said than done, of course. A few months after graduating from YSU, I began -- ta-dah! -- graduate school, the bane of existence. (I realize that's over-the-top, but I'm...kinda not joking.) Not only does graduate school drain one of all capacity to think about anything but coursework, research, and other related duties, but it also wreaks havoc on one's sense of reasonable writing topics. One of the papers my advisor suggested I cite for my thesis discusses "sense of community" as a sociological construct. The author of this paper has essentially appropriated ownership of the term "sense of community." Think about that. Does anybody in their right mind NOT know what that is? How is that possibly an academic topic worth expounding upon for 12 or 15 pages? But I had to read the article, and several sentences in my work-in-progress master's thesis refer to it. I scowled as I typed them.
And that's what I don't want my writing to be: something that I do as I clench my teeth, feeling like an utter sell-out, wishing I were doing anything else. That's the last thing I want my writing to be. I want it to be something that I do it because I love it, like it was when I wrote in my bright red second-grade journal. I want it to be something that I value and consider an integral part of myself, even if it never has anything to do with my livelihood. Now that I've matured enough to realize that one needn't make a career of writing to do it and do it well, maybe I can finally begin.
It should at least mean not having to say you're sorry for constantly belittling him to any random acquaintance!
My latest query: why do people complain ad nauseum about their significant others?
Several people I know take delight in bashing their husbands or fiancés. (No, I'm not going to hide the fact that the men I know do not engage in such claptrap.) And I'm tired of it. If he's such a turd, why did you marry him?
One chick in particular makes fun of her fiance's insecurities in the most annoyingly derisive voice I've ever heard (she uses this voice when talking about many other people, too). I'd wonder why she'd want to marry a man she apparently holds in such low esteem, but I had an epiphany today that was a long time coming: she wants to be in charge, she wants to be "better," and she gets a kick out of talking about this fellow like he's a dumb little squirrel.
Ugh! I have no place in such situations. It's yet another reason I'm just quiet little Weezey. It's not that I have nothing to say; I just have nothing to say in conversations like these.
|When I was a little girl, I took up the hobby of writing stories. It was my favorite pastime and I assumed I'd grow up to be a writer. (Actually, never mind growing up -- I distinctly recall believing that I would be published before the age of 10. But who wouldn't want to read about the adventures of my pet fish?) I continued to write throughout grade school. Just before high school, I drifted away from writing stories and instead took up a personal journal. I wrote more poetry, and here and there I outlined some characters for "the book" I planned to write. The characters were essentially people I was friends with, dated, wanted to date, disliked, etc. with tiny tweaks that wouldn't disguise them in the least. And, of course, with different names.|
Over the course of high school, I found myself writing less as I became more involved in school activities and met more friends. Once I started college, I very nearly abandoned my journal, and instead took up this Xanga right here, writing this and that for the world. After the first couple years of college, even my writings here waned into near-obscurity.
People write for many reasons, and I think one of the primary incentives for me over the years has been to somehow connect with other people. Writing stories as a young girl gave me the chance to know people I'd never meet, people who were just the way I wanted them to be, even if I didn't like them. During my middle school years, which were socially horrific, I buried myself in my writing more than ever before, completing a novel. It wasn't amazing. It was historical fiction and poorly researched (i.e. not at all -- wasn't decent exposure to Little House on the Prairie enough?). It wasn't very long. But it wasn't bad. Not long after finishing it, my social life improved, and suddenly I felt the need to write about my own interactions instead of others' who existed only in my imagination and a WordPerfect document. Teen angst and unrequited love fueled epic entries of woe. They also inspired a lot of my poetry. Again, most of it wasn't that good (some of it was perfectly awful). But I still look back fondly on a few of those poems, works that painstakingly incorporated alliteration and allusion and iambic pentameter while still staying true to whatever idea I wanted to convey.
This Xanga, in concert with its sidekick AIM, represented the triumphant pinnacle of my using writing to connect with people. Not only was I writing, but people I knew could read it! Perhaps it seems strange to couple a blog with AIM -- but remember when AIM away messages were all the rage?
Toward the end of my sophomore year of college, YSU was added to Facebook -- or as it was known then, The Facebook. Not immediately, but quickly, my Xanga was rendered obsolete. (And in due time, so was AIM.) Facebook was the medium of choice for connecting with people. No longer did one need carefully decipher cryptic away messages and blog postings. Now everything was right there on Facebook. And remember, when I joined, there were no photos, no status messages, no notes (which, as I recall, most people thought were lame initially), and no chat. You had to hunt to find people's profile updates. Oh, and there was certainly no news feed!
So where does that leave my writing? During the past couple years, I've become an avid reader of blogs, mostly of the religious variety. This activity has crystallized my sense of what good blogs are. Good blogs, it seems, have a purpose, a central theme. I made multiple attempts at creating such a blog, and none worked. I have made attempts to draft some pages of a novel, a short story, a poem -- anything -- to no avail. I'm very discouraged right now. Is writing really only a social outlet for me?
I'm not sure. I'm not sure what writing means for me, what it does for me, but I know that I miss it and I want to return to it. So here I am. I'm not going to pretend that this blog is about anything in particular, other than about me. And that's okay. Maybe someday it will be more -- maybe it already is and I don't know it yet.
In summary: I'm back. And hopefully, here to stay!
|Today's wonderful world of weez is brought to you by those delightful fungi that kill gypsy moths. The moths must go! They destroy our forests.|
I suppose I let the cat out of the bag by starting with a rather negative bent. My last entry was about happy things. But this entry is about complaints. Every now and then you just have to sound off, right?
1. Who on God's GREEN Earth thinks that L-O-U-I-S-E spells "Lois"? That's simply ridiculous. So many times on the first day of school I'd have some dim-witted teacher call out "Louis?" when reading the roster. Of course, that got my goat -- it's a boy's name, for Heaven's sake. But at least a quick glance at my name could understandably result in that error. "Lois"? Give me a break. Just yesterday I received a call about a study in which I'd volunteered to participate ("volunteered" is probably not the right term -- I'm getting $30 for my trouble) and the person on the phone started out with "Hello, is this Louise? Oh, excuse me, I mean Lois." Come on! You HAD it right!
2. My next gripe is a work-related issue. Instead of using the offending party's real name, I'll call him "Boomer." Boomer joined our research team a couple of months ago. He wanted to study wireless in a particular context related to a summer event in State College. Despite the fact that Boomer knew he'd be graduating a few weeks prior to said event, he still wanted to do this study. He began attending our meetings and would brief us on what he was thinking planning and doing. It seemed like he and another member of our group had the whole thing under control, though the information was rather scant. Then, out of nowhere a few weeks ago, he informed me and another member of our team that we would be implementing his study because he will be out of town to get married during the State College event. He also informed us that we would be recruiting the participants. The other team member offered him a list of potential participant contacts, which he said he'd use for recruitment, but at a meeting last week he said he'd be unable to contact people because he wouldn't have access to email to field responses. Eventually he agreed to send a last-minute email to the grad student list serv in our department, which will likely yield little response. Never during this scenario did Boomer express any regret that he'd been discourteous. Always, he behaved as though our compliance with his requests was simply to be expected.
What. The. %@&$. Excuse me, Boomer? Like you didn't know way before you got the notion to do this study EXACTLY when you'd be getting married? Like you couldn't have given us a heads up IMMEDIATELY that you'd need help? Like you couldn't have done some of your own recruiting before you left town?
I know some people hear stories like this and say "yeah, grad school is tough, you're unappreciated, but everyone gets shat on like this, Boomer's busy just like everyone else, deal with it, blah blah blah." And you know what I have to say to those people? GET REAL. I don't care that Boomer is busy. I don't care that grad students, particularly new ones, are always unappreciated and treated poorly. There is such a thing as common human decency and respect for others' time, and if you don't have act as though you possess those qualities, you are a jerk.
3. My last complaint is about...complaints. Okay, that may be terribly hypocritical but hear me out: I am so tired of hearing about high gas prices. Every day some chipper young dame or chap on the news informs us that "gas prices average over $4 a gallon!" DO YA THINK SO? We are all painfully aware of how much gas costs. It has cost a lot for a while now. Griping about it over and over and over and over is not going to do anything about it. I am especially tired of reading articles like this that cry the blues about how "Four-dollar gasoline has stolen a beach vacation from Julie Jacobs'
family, 'little small luxuries' like exotic bath washes from Angela
Crawford and dinners out from folks all over the country." Oh my goodness! No more exotic bath washes! What's a girl to do? The article continues, "Like a plague that hits every economic class, race and age, soaring fuel prices are inflicting pain throughout the U.S." Pardon me? I'm pretty sure that the degree of pain associated with soaring fuel prices does discriminate. There are people who can barely afford nourishment because of high gas prices. But no -- this article features people who gripe that they can't afford regular trips to Applebee's for margaritas anymore.
I guess that's enough bitchin' for one day. Sorry to unload, but...I can't say it wasn't fun.
P.S. The version of Great Expectations I'm reading is a very old one and is not listed as a choice on Xangazon. So I picked the Penguin Classics version to pay homage to my alma mater.
|Today's wonderful world of weez is brought to you by $2.54/gallon gasoline, available for a limited time only in Tijuana! (Okay, I don't know how limited the time is. But I liked how it sounded. And I'm sure it won't be that price in 6 months.) Save a little more by paying in pesos. |
I complain a lot. Complaining can be fun; commiserating can be relieving and helps us bond. But, especially after dishing out my joyful list of Buckeye Fast Facts, I'm in the mood to celebrate some of the happy things in life. So let's continue with a new list:
Badass Things I Love
1) The cake I made yesterday. It is banana (box mix) with peanut butter icing (homemade). Delicious!
2) Books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which I completed last night.
3) Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin. I found an amazing recording of it conducted by Leonard Bernstein. He also played the piano parts -- incredible. You can watch it in 2 parts (1, 2) on YouTube.
4) Summer rain. Today was an exquisite summer day. It started out sunny, clouded up, rained like crazy, was very sunny again, and then rained again. Now it's cooled down. You just don't get that kind of variety in any other season on a single day (at least, not in the places I've lived).
5) The Shield. Fine, Colin, I admit it! My dear husband has loved this show for a few years now, but I had never seen it and given that it's a violent, edgy police drama, I had doubted I'd like it. My parents got him the first couple seasons on DVD for Christmas and his birthday. Well, the rest is history. Now I'm hooked. This show can be difficult to watch. It's wrenchingly raw...but the writing and the acting are just phenomenal. My current favorite actors on the show are Jay Karnes (Det. Holland "Dutch" Wagenbach) and Walton Goggins (Det. Shane Vendrell). The seventh (and final) season starts on FX on Sept. 2 at 10 pm.
6) Spring Creek. Hows about, I found this thing by going on Google flipping Maps, typing in our address and moving the map around until I found a blue line. Yes. I was that desperate to find a waterway around here. It runs through a lovely, conveniently accessible park in College Township. I can't tell you how calming water is to me (well maybe I can, I know a lot of people feel that way). And when you don't even have a bathtub, you get needy!
7) Turkey sausage. Especially when it's on sale, a circumstance which Giant was generous enough to provide last Saturday. It's so much less fatty than regular sausage and it is just as delicious, in my opinion.
8) Poetry. Poems that are so rich and artistically crafted that you can sit with them for hours.
9) Meeting new people and really liking and connecting with them.
10) Ordering Papa John's Pizza with a really good coupon...repeatedly, because every time I go, the employee doesn't request that I relinquish the coupon.
11) The name of the municipality in which we reside: Patton Township. It was really named after Colonel John Patton back in 1794, but I like to pretend that it was named for Gen. George S. Patton.
Wow, only 3 of those were food-related. That's pretty good for me.
Please feel free to add your own.