Sunday, December 13, 2015

Aimee Response

I love the content of the NPR piece. I always find it interesting when people hold writing workshops for veterans. To hear about such a great turn out at Fort Bragg is really inspiring. Mr. Bob Joust, a war veteran, mentioned how it took him over twenty years to finally seek out help to heal the pain that he had suppressed for so long. Mr. Joe, another veteran, confirmed that writing was an important part of his healing process. The writing process helped Mr. Joe by allowing him to open up to others and inspire other veterans to share their experiences as well. The acts of writing, sharing and healing is really interesting when I think about it in the war veteran context compared to academic context. the article "Writing Memoir and Writing for Therapy" hits some really controversial points. Tara DaPra wrote this article with the intention of highlighting the benefits of integrating psychological wellness in the writing classroom. DaPra's article brought up some points regarding the nature of classroom etiquette and the writing process. There's no doubt that writing about experiences (traumatic or not) can help a person gain a different perspective and understanding. However, the article also asks at what point does this new perspective become crafted to mean something greater than just the experience? How can a writer develop their emotions and initial perspective into something that can be widely understood but also artistic? Looking at memoirs as a mode of writing to reconstruct experiences, DaPra asks her readers to think about whether writing about experience is a creative act or if the experience creates the writer.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Response to Lauren and Charlotte

I'm not sure how I feel about the anonymous Blunt Instrument letter. Part of me feels sorry for this white-male-poet. The fact that he's is so aware and analytical of his presence as a white-male-writer is good, but it's also really sad. He seems to not know how to be a writer anymore, and as we see in the response letter, all he really needs to do is write well. We're always told "write what you know", but he addresses the complications writers arrive at when they're inspired to write from a different perspective or about something they don't know much about. I think the response letter couldn't have put it any more plainly. Write what you know. When you write what you don't know much about then do your research. The hyper-aware thoughts this male writer was experiencing is both good and bad. It's good that he realizes it, but it's bad in the sense that it probably makes his writing much weaker than if he wrote it for his own enjoyment rather than trying not to step on any toes. You can write about something you know nothing about, and as long as you write it well and do your research you shouldn't be stepping over any boundaries.
As for the journal, there was one article in particular which really got my attention. Rebecca Cadenhead  wrote a piece called "Growing Up Mixed Race in America" where she discussed the various obstacles and difficulties she has faced while trying to explain her racial background. Personally, I have run into this problem multiple times. The SAT example she discussed is something I can relate to and have heard issues about before. It's strange to me that the only option for "white" people is "Caucasian", whereas for people of color there are usually "African-American", "Hispanic", "Native American", and "Asian". Categorizing race is one of the most mysterious things to me. As Cadenhead suggests, there are so many blurred lines for many people of multiple races.
The Forbes article asks a lot of questions regarding emotional intelligence and its relationship to being successful. I found this article very useful in that it kind of looks at emotional intelligence through a different lens. It never really occurred to me that the most successful business owners or CEOs would also have a high emotional intelligence. The article asks why there is not a Harvard for emotional intelligence, because after all in order to be a great leader you must have emotional intelligence--otherwise you're just a leader. To understand ones own impact on others is a difficult task for most people considering how selfish a lot of us have become. The stresses of school and always coming first before anyone else has made it more difficult for our generation to see ourselves in relation to others. Not only does this effect our relationships, but it also means that we are not able to comprehend the relationship we have with ourselves.
Psychology today brought up some more interesting points as well. The lack of emotional intelligence being based off of fear hasn't really been discussed much. We've mentioned it when comparing men and women, but to gain a full understanding that it can happen on many levels is pretty innovative. The inability to judge how we may hurt one another is a component I've always been interested in. As someone who has a difficult time gauging how my actions/words may effect someone who is more sensitive than I am, I have always looked for ways to help gain that awareness.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kristen and Allie's Articles

The results from the Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies (Paths) curriculum and self-emotional learning (S.E.L) provide evidence that children who are privileged of being taught emotional literacy and emotional control benefit in far greater ways than those who are not. Early childhood is an important perspective that I think would be very helpful for Kirsten to consider. As the article suggests, coping with an array of emotions at a young age is incredibly stressful and can induce high levels of anxiety during emotional instances. Learning to manage anxiety is just the beginning. The effectiveness of "emotional training" goes beyond that of human interaction. The positive habits that are formed from this kind of training effect the wellness of an individual as a student and learner. Neurologist, Richard Davidson, suggests that emotional training conditions the prefrontal cortex in a way that will enhance a individuals ability to control impulsive reactions, to apply abstract reasoning, and create long-term goals. It is important for Kirsten to note the observation made by one teacher at Leataata Floyd elementary school. The observation and conclusion the teacher had made was that after implementing the S.E.L program her students were taking responsibility for their emotional outbursts and intrinsically taking control of them rather than projecting that control onto somebody else. This kind of training is definitely a privilege,  because those who do not receive S.E.L may suffer long-term effects of anxiety and uncertainty of how to manage their emotions-- much like myself. 

The Buzzfeed post and "Gender as Constrained Choice" section Johnson and Repta's Sex and Gender article tie together Allie's themes of gender binaries and emotional literacy. Written by Luke Bailey, the Buzzfeed article titled "27 Gendered Products That Prove Masculinity Is Incredibly Fragile" highlights the many ways masculinity is marketed and emphasized. Some of my favorites were the chap stick for men,  cotton swabs, and sun screen. Johnson and Repta outline the logistics of this marketing approach, and highlight the reasons why it is expected that men take different approaches to their health and grooming needs than women. The roles of women and men are constructed and reinforced by marketing standards. For example, it is expected for women to care more about their physical appearance and personal comfort; so when a man wants to care for something like his lips then it  must be discreetly "taken care of" (i.e. Flat chap stick for men). These expectations also feed into the livelihoods of women, and as outlined by Johnson and Repta, "Viewing gender as a constrained choice therefore involves addressing the health restrictions that occur at many levels (individual, family, community, society) and acknowledging that healthy “choices” are limited by these over- arching and intersecting constraints." (22) These constraints are the result of an infrastructure that informs individuals to make certain choices based on their gender. For women, this constraint could be exemplified by motherhood. A social presumption is that women should be caregivers, but this expectation places the livelihood of the woman after the wellness of her family. The ripple effect from not taking care of oneself effects their health and self preservation. By marketing "mens cotton swabs" as a "tool" to "detail", and "build", and marketing "women's cotton swabs" as a "beauty tool" is one major example of how the public is constrained to making choices based on their gender. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015


I never really thought of myself as the competing type. During most competitions, athletic or scholarly, my intent was never to win-- it was to do my very best, hope for the best, but anticipate losing. This same mentality has carried itself over into my social life and how I cope with 'real life' competition. Recently a friend told me that the reason relationships get so hard is because we let our ego get in the way, whether we intend to or not, and that jealousy works in the same way. She said we project our insecurities onto other people. I'm used to feeling insecure, but I'm not used to being a victim of jealousy. There's a tendency I have, and maybe it's rather picky of me, but I try not to surround myself with jealous or negative people. I'm not good at reading emotions.
So when one of my best friends and roommate dropped out of college my sophomore year I was a little nervous about getting a random roommate. This girl we knew wanted to move out of her single, so I asked if she wanted to move in with me thinking that it would be better than living with a stranger. Little did I know that I was living with a stranger.
We got along real well for a short while, and she was pretty fun to just chill with. I'm not really sure where things went wrong, but one day it was as if she had turned into someone else. She wasn't mean or hostile-- actually quite the opposite-- she was unresponsive. I'd ask her to do certain things like pick up her clothes when it got real bad, or just ask her not leave the door unlocked. It was so petty at first so I let it slide.
Again and again, I would continue to just let her behavior and habits slide under the radar. She would say things like, "you can get any guy you want" or "I know I'm not as together as you are"; it were as if she wanted me to think she was jealous by putting herself down. There's one weekend in particular that really sticks out to me. I had cleaned and tidied up my side of the room because I had been planning to leave for fall break. So before I left I told my roommate that I would really appreciate if my side of the room stayed the way I was leaving it, and like a good friend and roommate she reassured me that "yeah of course, I probably won't even be in here much anyways".
After five hours of driving and a fun but draining fall break I came back to my dorm anticipating the warmth of my bed. I was anything but amused to find my room completely destroyed from corner to corner. There was sugar and food spilled all over my desk, my futon was broken and the wood broken and splintered beyond repair, garbage and left over food scattered the room, and the list could go on and on. Several of my things went missing, so I spent to rest of the night to track them down. It didn't take long. My belongings were in the room of the boy she had been seeing. When I asked his roommate about it, since the boy wasn't there, he said that my roommate had brought them over as a gift.
I'll never really know why she did this, or if it was even rooted in jealousy or competition. But after that our relationship was never the same. She continued to steal my things, lie, and disrespect my friends and me after that. Personally, I think she was jealous by how close we all already were, and it didn't help that she was taking the place of one of my best friends. I guess when the pressure gets high and the jealousy grows, some people just can't control their need to compete for attention.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

From Trauma to Writing

This was a really thought provoking piece, and despite it's length I really enjoyed reading it. Marian M. MacCurdy writes in such a way that makes understanding the human mind relatively simple. In the beginning, when she began talking about the academia around personal essay, I got really worried that this essay would sound a lot like many of our other readings. It was interesting how she talked about the iconic image, and related it back to the psychology of trauma recovery. First, MacCurdy talks about the importance of the iconic image in the context of personal essay. It is, she argues, the essential element to any good piece of writing (poetry, personal essay, fiction). Image is ultimately the best way to describe a story (compared to narrative). MacCurdy also suggests that image, or iconic image, is also a valuable tool in the process of healing. It is imagery that gives a person control over the situation by allowing them to reconstruct the scene or traumatic event. In a comment about writing and healing MacCurdy also suggests (with reference to Wendy Bishop)  --in response to Lester Faigley's point that personal essay is no more honest than the academic essay-- that the classroom (and largely the academy) is an appropriate environment for self exploration and self exploration is an important part of healing. She also makes an extremely good claim about the unearthing of the self, and I was really fond of how well she thought out this aspect. Unearthing of the self means to"move from the stories about their lives to the stories in their lives" (161), or move past the quickened narrative, past the summary of ones life and to look into what is currently happening.
When MacCurdy began to discuss the psychology of trauma and memory she helped me understand my own traumatic experiences. I was unaware of how the brain works in regards to stress hormones and imprinting. It makes so much sense now. She explains how whenever we have a traumatic experience stress hormones are released and imprint the images into our brain (164). This explains certain flashbacks I've had from traumatic experiences, or how whenever someone asked me "what happened"I can only explain what it looked like and how I tried running from it. What I'm referring to are two experiences I had in a hospital-- my only time spent in a hospital. It was so traumatizing I felt like I was in a dream… could have been the drugs they put me on, but still it was horrifying and had a long lasting effect. I remember one instance in particular where I was watching TV with my friends and  a hospital scene came on and I had to leave the room. I got goose bumps and nearly had a panic attack. When I was hospitalized the doctors had put me on some really strong drugs to help me calm down because I was screaming at everyone and didn't want anyone to come near me. I understand why in the  interview with EMTs being against the use of the beta drug. It's horrible not knowing exactly what happened during a traumatic experience. All I have left are cloudy images and an expensive hospital bill to pay off.

question for the class: Do you find that when reconstructing a traumatic event, that you describe it in a narrative sense, or in an imagery-oriented way?

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Emotional Repsonse

I've been friends with Jonathon ever since we were eleven. Though time and space has kept us apart we have managed to stay emotionally in-tuned with each other. Just the other week I was on the phone with him, and we were laughing about some dumb joke. After the giggling was over he unexpectedly asked me "So, what's wrong?" At first I laughed and thought about asking him what he meant, but then I began to tell him anyway. I don't always call Jonathon to complain or ask for advice, and it's even more rare for me to talk to him about my relationships due to our complicated past. 
It was different this time-- he had caught me. He knows me too well and can tell when I'm pretending to be okay, and I know better than to lie to him. I began to tell him about the most recent problems in my relationship. Jonathon told me I was right to be angry, that nothing about what my boyfriend did was okay, and that what he did was "actually pretty fucked up". He made me feel a little better, made me laugh some, but didn't quite give me any consolation. Maybe I didn't feel very different because of how isolated he is from the subject matter and how little knows about my relationship (other than the bad stuff), or maybe it was simply because I was feeling alone. 
The following weekend I made a decision not to go out. My boyfriend decided he wanted some "space" so I figured I might as well lessen the chances of running into him. I didn't feel like drinking or seeing much of anyone anyways.
 My roommate, Chris, tried getting me to go out with him and his girlfriend but the last thing I wanted was the be a third-wheel. My other roommate, Michaela, suggested "If you can't sleep then come down the Silk's for after-hours. Drink's on me!" I took her up on the offer but only stayed for one drink before I felt obliged to help close down the bar. 
I sulked my way up to the front door of our dark apartment where I stood for a good minute jingling my keys around trying to find the right one. Chris must have heard me because when I opened the door he was standing in the hallway, in the dark, and in his boxers. He held his arms out to me and said "whats up?" Without a word I fell into his body, my arms wrapped tightly around him, and my tears racing down my cheek onto his neck. He didn't have to say anything more. It meant the world to me just to have him there. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Language & Literature as "Equipment for Living"

Tilly Warnock defends the writing process as a means for expression, and she argues that the progression of the writing process is an extension of our daily lives. Warnock uses the academic environment as an example of how we are first taught that writing should "yield [a] product" (36), and that whatever we may write is unimportant until we arrive at something profound. She suggests that daily writing is essential-- though while not everything we write may be profound-- it is simply the act and craft of writing that helps us cope and strategically communicate with people on a daily basis. This communication that is practiced through writing can help us articulate our opinions and be more persuasive in our arguments-- which as a result helps us get along with others and to consider how they will interpret what we have to say. Warnock finds this level of communication important because when focusing on the relationship between writers and readers it is commonly forgotten to recognize that writers and readers must come to terms on meaning (create meaning) because neither can be exactly certain of their claims since even evidence is inconclusive. I'm a little confused as to how she relates rhetorical proof back to every-day experiences. Sure, we argue, negotiate and converse on a daily basis, but writing allows us to revise and edit our arguments and personalities. Just because I practice persuasive writing does not mean that my spoken arguments are as accurately articulated as I would like them to be. 
Then again, as Warnock responds to Burke throughout the piece, she suggests "If getting along is our goal, as it is Burke's main motive, rather than dominating or defeating, then our rhetoric aims at identification rather than manipulation or coercion." This really makes me wonder about the intention behind rhetoric and the importance of every day writing to help shape our voice. How are we able to amplify our individual voices if we are constantly taking into consideration the interpretation of the reader? I'm not suggesting that we completely ignore how the reader will perceive our rhetoric, but it seems to me that Warnock is suggesting we write so that others can identify with our writing-- not a bad thing (in fact I think it's good), but just interesting when she is seemingly arguing against manipulation and coercion.