Monday, October 29, 2007


I am so so tired. Every part of my body aches and I feel like I couldn’t possibly do any more work. The tips of my fingers are numb from the incessant typing that has filled my night and most of my afternoon. I have had so much work to do in every class that I am taking. I don’t think that I can write another paper or even read another word until I have slept at least twelve hours. I am falling behind in my school work. I missed a couple of my calculus and chemistry classes for family stuff and I am now finding that I cant quite follow my professors. I worked most of my afternoon on Chemistry and Calculus and at least I think I am starting to grasp the concepts. In reality the lessons aren’t really very hard, its just that I keep falling asleep or zoning out during class. This is so strange to me, I am usually so focused and now I can barely listen for five minutes before my mind just kind of blanks out.

I am getting sick. I can feel sinus problems coming on and I know that it is because of my lack of sleep and abundance of stress. My little brother has a horrible sinus infection and I am sure that a couple of days from now I will be feeling even worse than I do in my current state. I am working late into the night and getting up early in the morning. My eyes can barely stay open as I type this. I am a very fragile person, If I lose sleep then I get sick. That’s just how it works for me. I stayed up especially late tonight working on the only non-school-related work that I have done in a while. I decided to make a scavenger hunt for my little brother Ben (the one who is sick) because he is staying home from school for a couple of days. He was telling me that he wanted to do something fun with me and I unfortunately had to explain that I had no time for anything except work. I felt so bad about this and wanted to show him that I love him so much so I decided to create some interesting clues and hide them around the house before I go to sleep. I say go to sleep, but recently its been more like a short period of unconsciousness followed by intense pain upon waking.

I have no time. My days are filled with cramming in school work and then trying to accomplish some of my other responsibilities. Aside from writing English and UNHP papers all the time, I try to spend a little time with my parents and my brothers. I usually have to make sure that Sam has enough food and clean clothes and stuff like that because he is even busier than I am. There are so many other random things that I have to cram in like church stuff and work. The one thing that I consider most important in my day is my time with God. Ideally I would like to spend an hour each day reading my Bible and praying but over the past couple of weeks that time has slowly dwindled down to twenty minutes. Sometimes I even forget to spend time in the Word altogether. This really upsets me because in my hectic life right now one of the first things to be reduced is my God time and right now I need Him most. I hate that I don’t spend enough time praying and reading but I am just so tired in the morning and night that I tell myself God will understand if I make my time with Him short. I know that he does understand and that my worth is not measured by my actions but I really feel that when I don’t spend enough time with God that I am hurting myself.
Wow! This post is all over the place. I am exhausted and I just kind of wrote without thinking. I guess that the things I typed are the things that weigh heaviest on my mind right now. Anyway, I’m not trying to complain. I am ecstatically happy with my life right now even if things aren’t always the way I want them to be

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The Little Book

I just finished reading one of the sweetest books I think I have ever read. It wasn’t really like any of the other books I usually pick out. I was at the Central Library browsing through the novels and I was feeling very overwhelmed. Most of ya’ll reading this have probably been to the Central branch so you know what I’m talking about but just in case you haven’t I’ll try my best to describe it.

I think that the most remarkable thing about the central library is simply the huge amount of books that it has. There are four floors filled with bookshelves that are in turn stuffed with books. Even though I think there may actually be too many books to just go in and casually look for one to read, I absolutely love to go to this library. The reason that I just love this particular branch is that whenever I enter through the front doors I feel just like Belle from Beauty and the Beast. The first time that I ever went to the central branch was on one of my first dates with Sam and he knew that I love to read so he took me there. As we stood in the middle of the first floor looking up at the tall wall of windows and the four floors of books, I was speechless. That’s when it hit me. I instantly got this picture in my head of when the Beast opens the door to his massive library and Belle prettily gasps in delight. I know this is a really childish reason to love a library but Beauty and the Beast is my favorite Disney movie and I like remembering one of my first dates with Sam whenever I go there. Anyway, the image stuck and I get the best feeling just walking into the Central Library.

So, getting back to what I was originally talking about, I was wandering around the fiction section not really knowing how to start deciding on a book when I got a call. It was Sam and he was calling from the floor above. He had been looking for books on international business and especially banking in China. Needless to say he was pretty bored and told me that he was ready to leave immediately.A really little book on the shelf in front of me caught my eye so I grabbed it and headed to meet him on the first floor to check out the books. I didn’t really even look at the novel that I had hastily decided upon until we got into the car. I read the back of it and was surprised to see that it was described to be “a book about the perfect marriage.” I wasn’t necessarily excited about reading it because I usually go more for exciting, travely, historical type books but I was intrigued by this description. In most of the books I have read, marriage is either not explored very much or it is given a somewhat negative connotation. Judging from the back cover, this book was about an eighteen year old girl named Annie and her new husband, 20 year old Carl, living in the late 1920’s – early 1930’s and putting Carl through law school. It sounds kind of boring but once I had read the first page I just couldn’t put it down. Carl and Annie were so endearing. They had this open pure love for each other that neither their money problems, one room living quarters, or Annie’s unexpected pregnancy could taint. They took each day at a time and cherished small things like eating dinner together at the cafeteria where Carl worked and walking together in the early morning. They really did have a perfect marriage of trust and selflessness even though they had very little time to spend with each other and had many financial difficulties. I just can’t stop thinking about this book and recommend it to anyone who appreciates sentimental things and could use a simple relaxing read. I love the title too because it reminds me of one of my favorite Bible verses that I happened to write my creative essay around. The book is called “Joy in the Morning” by Betty Smith.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Joy Comes in the Morning

*hey ya'll, I couldnt find my eighteen copies of my story in class so I decided to go ahead and post the essay.I'm not sure if this is non-fiction or fiction. It is kind of in between because its based on one of my closest friends who really is dealing with all of these things but I made up the stuff about her running and the sun and rain.*
Joy Comes in the Morning

The sun beat hard arid rays upon Annie’s shaking shoulders. She felt as if the very foundation of her life was crumbling to the ground around her. Everything that she cherished most had been ripped away leaving a sensation that the person she had been was fading fast. She waited on this course grainy dirt for the tears to come, and still her cheeks remained dry. Annie had been running haphazardly trying to deal with her problems; unsure if she was hoping to outrun the recent events or finally catch up with them. It didn’t really matter because she had fallen and was now staring up into the harsh winter sunlight, simply floating between who she had been and who she would have to become. She was no one, nameless, and yet in the back of her mind a persistent thought nagged at her anonymous bliss. That thought plainly told her she would eventually have to address the horrible things that had happened to her. But for now, Annie couldn’t think about those things. She couldn’t focus on the fact that her grandmother had passed away just a few days before her dog suddenly got sick and died. She didn’t know how to deal with her close friend choosing to attend a college thousands of miles away or her mother’s worsening paranoia. Most of all she refused to acknowledge that the one person who remained by her side through all of these things, not only her best friend but the man who had loved her for years, was not even speaking to her anymore. She wasn’t angry about these things, only numb to any emotion. After all there wasn’t anyone to blame. Her grandmother had died because she was old, the veterinarians did all they could for her dog, it was Hannah’s dream to attend whatever college it was that she kept chattering about, and neither her mother or anyone else could help her mental state. William had fought a long time with his parents about their decision to not let him date her and Annie knew that if he disobeyed them he would be thrown out of his house. She didn’t blame his parents too much either because both of them had grown up in very strict Baptist homes. While she thought it was extremely excessive that they had forbidden her and William to even contact each other, she knew that they only wanted what was best for their son and viewed dating in college as a sin. The emotions were welling up inside of her but they just wouldn’t come out. She sat up and felt herself slowly returning to cognizance and, with that first appearance of her alert mind, she experienced a flash of clarity before her adopted state of numbness engulfed her. Maybe it is easier to deal with pain when you are mad because you can let in at least some emotions and consequently have to recognize that whatever has happened has indeed taken place. But for me, Annie thought bitterly, that realization will never come because I can’t even feel anymore. Again she paused, looking up and hoping for some glimpse of the passionate deep-feeling person she knew herself to be, but still her eyes were tearless and she barely noticed the dark clouds passing over head. “O Lord, you are my rock and my redeemer,” Annie whispered, “but I no longer feel your peace or comfort.” She felt so lost and weak staring into the ensuing darkness of the expansive sky left with only the knowledge that she was becoming estranged from herself. In the final wave of her cognizance, she silently cried out for something that she could not even name before succumbing to the falling depths of despair that at least allowed her to feel. As she slipped away from her former self, soft cool rain began to fall, gently caressing her upturned face and wrapping her whole body in a refreshing embrace. She let go of herself completely and tears slowly formed, running down her face and pooling in the shallow hollow of her neck. She no longer feared pain but welcomed it and felt that though her heart was breaking, she had finally seen her suffering and in that instant learned to overcome it. Her tears mingled with the falling rain as she grieved and healed. “… for weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalms 30: 5.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Reader Response Essay

Lauren Woody
Wendy Sumner-Winter
Reader Response Essay Draft 1
Through detailed descriptions and thought-provoking scenes, Virginia Woolf’s “Street Haunting: A London Adventure” evokes a feeling of escape, examines what defines our self identity, and explores what is truly beautiful. Woolf employs such vivid imagery that I felt as if I were the one who wandered London’s streets in winter. I experienced the liberating feel of escaping from your normal self, I saw the beauty Woolf finds in even the most unlikely subjects, and I struggled with her between surface appearances and the deeper connectedness she originally tries to avoid.
With the simple excuse of needing a pencil, Virginia Woolf escapes into the streets on an early winter night in London. She describes in great detail the many things she sees and the various things she experiences. She travels the streets of London simply taking in the obvious beauty of such a lovely night; emphasizing her desire to stay on the surface for a little while longer. She switches from a pure uncomplicated beauty to appreciation of that which is irregular or even ugly and exposes the beauty to be found in those things. This change in sights ushers in a new tone of thinking and connectedness that allows Woolf to imagine herself in the people around her and create a background for the different things that she encounters. These mental wanderings take place in areas such as the Thames River, a second hand book store, and a shop owned by a quarreling older couple. She seems to be developing an identity for herself in regards to her surroundings but in the end of the essay as Woolf returns to her house she realizes that identity is found in our wishes and wanderings as well as the reality of our life and familiar environment.
From the very beginning of the essay I sensed Woolf’s restlessness and desire to escape from, not only her familiar self, but also her conscious thought processes. Woolf’s need to leave what is ordinary and venture into the world outside herself is evident in her weak pretext for exiting her home and venturing thorough the streets of London. The fact alone that Woolf cites a pencil as her reason for wandering around on a winter night shows me how strong her inclination to elude normality is, but she carries this sentiment even further by applying it to her identity and mind. Woolf’s emphasis of the importance that darkness and winter have in her evening stroll made me realize that she was trying to evade her typical persona. In the second paragraph of the essay, Woolf explains “The evening hour, too, gives us the irresponsibility which darkness and lamplight bestow. We are no longer quite ourselves.” These sentences cause me to think that Woolf wanted to be someone other than her normal self, not only because she plainly states it, but also, because she gives a positive connotation to irresponsibility and seems to crave the cover that darkness and the unique air that lamplight create. I further connected with this idea of breaking away from your self towards the end of that same paragraph when Woolf paints a striking picture of our familiar selves emerging into the outside world. “The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken, and there is left of all these wrinkles and roughness a central oyster of perceptiveness, an enormous eye.” I can literally see Woolf slipping into the streets, shedding her old identity, and assuming the role of the detached observer. I identified with Woolf so much in this section because I have many times felt the desire to assimilate myself into a crowd and passively notice the things going on around me.
I found this similar urging to escape later on in the paragraph only this time connected to cognizance. Woolf expresses a wish to stay on the surface of things taking her surrounding in only at face value all throughout the first part of this essay. She describes her journey as “gliding smoothly on the surface” and voices a desire to “be content still with surfaces only”. Woolf seems to be working hard to elude her thoughts. This leads me to believe that Woolf wanted to evade her mind just as much as her self and normal environment. She depicts her observations in a way that is unconnected to thinking by mentioning that “the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks” and warning herself that “we are in danger of digging deeper that the eye approves.” In these ways Woolf is distancing her senses from her mind, further escaping the familiar.
Woolf’s plan to remain only on surface appearances begins to fade as the essay progresses. Originally Woolf expresses a desire to look at pure obvious beauty by saying “For the eye has this strange property: it rests only on beauty; like a butterfly it seeks colour and basks in warmth.” I get the feeling from this expression that Woolf is trying to make a distinction between what appeals to the eye and what appeals to our emotions. She later describes this method of observing beauty, however, in a way that gives it a shallow connotation. Woolf mentions that with “this simple, sugary fare, of beauty pure and uncomposed, we become conscious of satiety.” As I read this line I thought that Woolf was beginning to see the need for her conscious thoughts and was preparing to let them back in. This idea was further cemented when I recalled the line directly before this one in which Woolf remarks upon the shortcomings of passive sight. She says, “The thing it cannot do (one is speaking of the average unprofessional eye) is to compose these trophies in such a way as to bring out the more obscure angles and relationships.” Woolf begins to appreciate irregularity as beautiful and this change marks the emergence of her cognizant mind into her observations. After this switch, Woolf describes beauty in ugliness. She finds beauty in the foot of a dwarf and attributes a strange sort of grace to the walk of two blind men.
As Woolf begins to redefine true beauty, her detachment in surveillance melts. I think that this is because originally she was looking only at beauty that can be taken in at face value but as she switched her focus to the beauty found in ugliness she was required to react or at least think in order to understand its beauty. This evolution from surface beauty to hidden beauty stood out to me in another way as well. I felt a contrast between detachment and connectedness in Woolf as she describes the various things that she observes. She was able to stay detached from the “simple, sugary fare, of beauty” mentioned earlier because visual pleasure was the only thing it had to offer, however, the raw emotions of pain or humiliation found in the beauty of the ugly, deformed, and unusual draws us in and makes us feel. We are required to think when confronted with such things because there is great depth to the subject. Woolf shows us this ability to connect to pain in her description of the street crowd’s reaction to the shoe-shopping dwarf. After returning to her ugly self after her momentary glimpse of normality, the dwarf “started a hobbling grotesque dance to which everybody in the street now conformed,” and Woolf later reinforces that “all joined in the hobble and tap of the dwarf’s dance.” Woolf originally claims to desire detachment from her surroundings but finds later on that visual and emotional pleasures require a deeper look into subject matter and a connection to it.
I noticed a similar contrast between detachment and connectedness in Woolf’s morphing identity in regards to the crowd around her and her changing environment. The quote mentioned earlier about Woolf’s emergence into the streets of London, “The shell-like covering which our souls have excreted to house themselves, to make for themselves a shape distinct from others, is broken,” demonstrates the idea that our identities are altered when we leave behind the familiar things that define us. Instead of assuming her normal responsible identity in the crowd, Woolf adopts the position of a removed observer becoming “an enormous eye.” This forced detachment is, I think, brought on because of a lack of the familiar. When we no longer derive our true self from our familiar surroundings and those who know us, we automatically morph into the crowd’s perception of us. Woolf’s detailed scene with the dwarf demonstrated this theory. The dwarf was able to see herself as normal and beautiful when her feet were the center of attention and she was engaging in the familiar behavior of shoe shopping. However, when she returned to the streets and no one could see her perfect feet Woolf says that, “she had become a dwarf only.” It is as if Woolf is saying that, when the things that we love or know about ourselves are not apparent, then they cease to matter.
At the same time she is expounding upon this point Woolf is also explaining the antidote. Woolf shows us that by not limiting what defines our self identity to the familiar but by also allowing our desires and the experiences of others to shape our person, we can avoid being lost in the flurry of street- wandering in London. At first, Woolf limits herself to what can be gleaned in glimpses but eventually she lets herself imagine and think and in that context she truly finds meaning and pleasure. We see that it is our innermost thoughts and experiences whether real or imaginary that influence us most and that by finding our connection to the crowd we discover true freedom and escape. Near the end of the essay, Woolf emphasizes the importance of connectedness in our identity and experiences saying “And what greater delight and wonder can there be than to leave the straight lines of personality and deviate into those footpaths that lead beneath brambles and thick tree trunks into the heart of the forest where live those wild beasts, our fellow men?” Woolf encourages us to dig past surface appearances and find where we connect to our surroundings because it is only in this way that we achieve a true identity and effective escape at the same time.
“Street Haunting: A London Adventure” impacted me for several reasons. I was drawn into the story by Woolf’s brilliant depictions and identified with the open emotions she conveyed. Woolf’s exploration of true beauty stood out to me because I tend to deem things beautiful that are unique or have sentimental value over things that are perfectly visually pleasing. I felt like I journeyed alongside Woolf as she evolved from detachment in identity and observation to a more connected stance. Most of all, the theme of escape in Woolf’s essay spoke to me. I enjoyed seeing how Woolf struggled so hard to elude her thoughts only to discover their importance in the end. I felt as Woolf must have as she wandered the streets of London on that winter night while reading this essay. I banished my more analytical thoughts at the beginning of the essay in order to truly appreciate the beauty of Woolf’s descriptions, but, as the essay progressed, I realized that there was so much more to the scenes than what can be gleaned from near subconscious reactions. I had to slowly let in my perceptive thinking in order to fully understand the import of Woolf’s accounts and achieved a rich experience that I had not expected.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Warning against silence

The scene with the rake from David Mamet’s story made me think about how even the most innocent people can turn into the things that they loathe. Mamet describes the beatings that his sister received as a child throughout the story and then details how he ends up hurting his sister in the same way. Though Mamet didn’t intentionally hurt his sister, his actions derived from similar emotions. He was frustrated about having to rake leaves on a lawn that he hated and was disappointed in the life he was living in what he described as the middle of nowhere.

I think that Mamet incorporated his absence into the scenes where his sister was being mistreated to show that while these things were going on he remained silent. The fact that Mamet didn’t speak out against his mother and stepfather’s cruelty towards his sister emphasizes the idea that, even though we may disagree with something that is going on, unless we take a stand against it we are actually condoning those actions. Repetitive refusal to acknowledge what we think is wrong can make us grow accustomed to those things and even breed that kind of evil in our own lives. Mamet throwing the rake at his sister made me think that he had unknowingly let a part of what he hated so much influence him. Reading the final scene with the rake caused me to think about the things that I fail to speak out against and the things that I disagree with but accept as normal. I began to wonder if I have let any part of the things that I loathe into my life and if the things that I ignore affect me in the same way that the domestic violence affected Mamet.

Mamet had been constantly exposed to cruelty and violence in his own home to the point where he came to expect it and probably even view it as normal. I think that we run this same risk of recognizing deplorable behavior as acceptable in our culture because of the numerous ways we are exposed to such behavior. Television is a huge way that we are influenced to see something that in real life would be considered horrible as acceptable because it is being dealt with in a very everyday approach. So many TV shows (like the ones on the CW) depict young adults as wild and irresponsible; constantly having sex, drinking, and doing drugs. Most of the people that I know don’t behave anything like this but in our culture we have come to expect this from teenagers and I think that young people have become influenced by this type of behavior. While I disagree with the conduct that is depicted on TV, I tend to assume that is how most people act. This scene made me think of how the Christian church is guilty of the same things as Mamet. In many areas, Christians have allowed things from our culture that the Bible clearly defines as sin to become acceptable behavior or at least refused to acknowledge that it is happening. I think that it is because of this silence towards sin in the church that has allowed many Christians to commit those sins. As I read Mamets final scene, I felt like he was warning us to speak out against violence and other things we view as wrong so that we will not eventually become guilty of those same actions.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A Cycle of Violence

“The Rake: A Few Scenes from My Childhood” by David Mamet had an important theme that violence is cyclical. We see that the grandfather in the story beat the mother and the mother inflicted this same kind of pain on her children. At the end of the story Mamet ends up accidentally hurting his sister. This theme stood out to me because the people who inflict pain in this story seem to be doing so out of frustration, disappointment, and their own personal pain. The grandfather beat the mother because his wife wouldn’t have sex with him. The mother most likely beat her children because that is what she knew as a child and also because she was concealing her own pain from being beaten. David throws the rake at his sister because he is frustrated at having to rake leaves on a lawn that he doesn’t even appreciate. The idea that frustration breeds violence in the Mamet family made me think that this same frustration must be let out in different ways in other families. Not all families are violent but most people have things that frustrate or disappoint them in their lives.

I guess that my family’s way of de-stressing is to pray or laugh together. We take a lot of family vacations too, probably because my dad has a really stressful job. Maybe other people are able to bury their upsetting emotions without any violent consequences but I think that most people have to let their feelings out in some way. The parents were unable to acknowledge their pain and because of that they took out their bottled up feelings on their children. I think that we can learn from Mamet’s relation of the parents violence that we have to recognize the things that hurt us in order to not let them affect us. Maybe if the mother and stepfather dealt with their problems instead of concealing them they wouldn’t have hurt David’s sister.

Another thing that became apparent when I read about this cycle of violence in “The Rake” was that this domestic violence will continue unless it is acknowledged for what it is. None of the family members would mention the violence that went on and because of that it was kind of like they were accepting it as normal and allowing it to happen. When we encounter violence we need to speak out against it in order to prevent ourselves from becoming accustomed to it and eventually repeating that violence. I think that this theme of a cycle of violence leads into the theme of silence and complicity. By remaining silent as violence goes on we are actually condoning it.

The Model Home

The model home in “The Rake: A Few Scenes from My Childhood” stuck out to me for a few reasons. At first I thought it was ironic that this incredibly dysfunctional family lived in the model home. Then it occurred to me that, even though author David Mamet’s family is an extreme example of the pain that families often inflict upon each other, most families seem to be this “model” family on the outside but are really very dysfunctional on the inside. It made me think that the fact that the Mamet family lived in this perfect house wasn’t really a contradiction to who they were but instead added to this appearance that they really were this perfect family. Many things in the story supported this idea that the Mamets had the appearance of a typical family. They lived in a nice, new subdivision and the two children attended the local high school. No one in the family talked about the beatings and hatefulness that the parents inflicted upon their children, and Mamet even mentions that the children would be punished if their parents deemed that they were disgracing the family in public.

Also, a model home is the house that the builders of a subdivision show their clients to give them an idea of what their homes will look like or what the possibilities are for their own home designs. The model home has to appear perfect but usually the builder doesn’t construct it as carefully as he does the houses that people actually live in because the appearance is the only thing that matters when he is trying to influence people to buy his houses. I know about this first of all because my family has been through the house-buying process many times and has actually owned a home that the builder later decided to use as his model home, also my grandfather is a contractor. This is why after reading the story I was immediately drawn to this model home image. The model home is designed to look great but isn’t built as well as it could be. This reflects the way that the Mamet family takes great pains to appear normal but the parents neglect to build healthy relationships with their kids. The whole family is in a lot of pain and is definitely unstable just like the typical model home.

I remember when my family and I lived in our neighborhood’s model home. We always had to makes sure that the house looked perfect because people could come by anytime to look at it as it was also on the market at that time. We constantly had to do that superficial kind of cleaning where you stuff all the clutter in drawers or rearrange your stuff so it looks less messy. This kind of cleaning doesn’t really help because you just have to deep clean later but it works because people are only looking at the surface of your house. As I read the story I remembered this because I began to think about why the Mamets were so dysfunctional. I think that maybe the Mamet parents didn’t seem to care about the relationships within their family because they knew that people on the outside only see the surface and it was just easier for them to stay on the surface and take their pain and frustration out on their kids than deal with it. Its like they were constantly surface cleaning by stuffing their emotional baggage on their kids instead of dealing with it and putting it in its proper place.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Chocolate Covered Strawberries = High Maintenance

Now that I have eaten about ten chocolate covered strawberries, I am finally ready to blog. I have been putting off posting this whole weekend because I felt like I didn’t really have anything to talk about and also because I felt like I was missing something. At eleven o’clock tonight I figured out what I was missing: chocolate covered strawberries. I know it sounds crazy that I couldn’t write because I didn’t have any chocolate covered strawberries but I’ll briefly explain why this makes perfect sense (at least in my mind). Whenever I write anything school-related I always have some sort of snack, usually its either chocolate or popcorn but sometimes I branch out a little and try something new. I hadn’t had much time to blog during the week so I tried to find an inspiring snack that would help me post something good over the weekend. On Friday I tried Asian-resembling food and fried chicken, but that didn’t really spark anything creative. Saturday morning I decided to fall back on my classic choices of movie theater butter popcorn and dark chocolate, neither worked and I even experimented with covering the popcorn in the dark chocolate but the results of that were surprisingly unfortunate (apparently insane amounts of artificial butter flavor and bitter 80% cocoa melted chocolate just don’t mix). Anyway, Sunday night arrived and I still hadn’t posted anything and I began to freak out a little bit. I knew that I was craving something but the worst part was that I had no idea what I wanted. I took a long bubble bath which is one of the only things that can actually help me de-stress and while I was desperately trying not to let the fact that I hadn’t blogged this week affect me, I realized what I was craving. I was just pouring in loads of hot chocolate bubble bath when I looked up at my strawberry ice-cream shampoo and it hit me. I called Sam and told him that I absolutely had to have strawberries and that “frutti-dolci” stuff from Kroger and asked him to bring it over ASAP. He of course forgot and we had to run out to the store at 12:00 in a freaky part of town while I was wearing pink slippers and threadbare pajamas. Needless to say the few questionable-looking people that were in Kroger at the time were staring at me and I felt incredibly stupid for absolutely having to have chocolate covered strawberries (Sam was wearing normal clothes so no one was staring at him and he claims that he felt completely comfortable buying strawberries and chocolate from a deserted Kroger at midnight). Sam bought the strawberries, we came back to my apartment and I began making them right away. Its amazing how much better I feel after eating chocolate covered strawberries. I feel relaxed and comfortable even though I still have a lot of work to do and I am actually enjoying typing out this blog and working my calculus problems. While I know this post is all over the place and pretty point less writing it has actually made me realize something very startling. The fact that I needed chocolate covered strawberries so much that I couldn’t write my blog and I had to have my boyfriend come with me in my pajamas to a Kroger at midnight to buy them probably means that I am really high maintenance. My mom and dad are always joking around saying that I’m high maintenance and that they feel sorry for Sam and stuff like that, but I never really took them seriously. I mean most normal people don’t crave things so badly that they can’t do school work without whatever it is that they are craving. Maybe I need to work on this. Actually I think Ill just ask Sam if it bothers him, maybe it’s not that big of a deal if I am high maintenance.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Taylor Bradford Essay

I don’t really feel affected by the shooting of Taylor Bradford. I know this sounds horrible, but I didn’t know him so while I can register this as something sad, it doesn’t really seem to be connected to me at all. I can’t say that I was surprised that something like this could happen at the U of M because Memphis in general has a lot of violence. You hear about people getting shot in Memphis or near campus all the time so this shooting wasn’t shocking. My parents didn’t consider it a big deal probably because they live in Memphis but I did get a few phone calls from my grandparents who were really scared. I explained to them that things like this happen in Memphis and that I feel very secure in my classes and at my apartment. This doesn’t make me feel unsafe on campus because I know we have a good system of security and I don’t think that the kind of thing that happened to Taylor could be prevented by campus security. I know it seems like I just contradicted myself, but what I’m trying to say is that there is no reason for me to be more careful about my safety after what happened because I don’t think that there is any way to prevent things like this from happening. I feel safe on campus in the sense that I don’t think that I would be attacked or anything, but being shot at is not something that our security force can do anything about. I trust in God, the same way I always have, that I will be safe, and I try not to worry about things. Maybe if I lived on campus or was more involved I would feel more connected to the shooting this weekend, but because I simply go to my classes and then leave I don’t feel much attachment to the U of M. I feel sad that Taylor Bradford died and I have been praying for his family and friends to be filled with God’s peace and comfort. Other than that, this event didn’t seem to touch me. I feel that it is kind of messed up that I don’t feel connected to this, so I am looking to become more involved with the university. While I feel that I should be more connected to this incident, I do not think that being affected by this can prevent such things from happening in the future. I think that as individuals and as a society our way of thinking needs to change. Maybe if our culture valued human life more in general, instead of focusing only on ourselves, there would be less violence. The only thing I can think of to bring about this change in values is by vocalizing our discontent and by recognizing that, no matter how much we have become accustomed to it, violence is not normal.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Self evaluation of the textual analysis essay

My approach to writing this essay was very laid back. I am accustomed to writing papers longer than 2,000 words because my high school has a challenging English department, so I didn’t really bother to start on my essay until the day before it was due. This was a huge mistake because I didn’t realize that the essays I had written in high school were based wholly on facts and the textual analysis essay required my own thoughts. After discovering this monumental error in my thinking at 6:00 in the evening, my process drastically changed. I read David Griffith’s “Prime Directive” another time and then I formulated my thesis. I didn’t have any time left to carefully review my ideas so I included only the things that jumped out at me from the text. I read through the article one more time and took notes next to sections that I thought supported the certain points that I planned to expand upon in my essay. Then I began to write. I wrote my paper all the way through with no breaks and went back through a second time to edit out anything that was too wordy or didn’t make sense. I finished at 3:00 in the morning and wasn’t very happy with my paper. I still think it’s fairly mediocre even after I have revised it.

Next time I will definitely start sooner on my essay and try to begin formulating ideas ahead of time as well. I would like to make more substantial changes to my future essays from the first draft to the final. I also want to write more interestingly in my next essay. I think that my textual analysis essay is very boring and it certainly didn’t have to be. The text that I analyzed was very meaningful and the points that I brought up in my essay were interesting so it’s entirely my fault that my essay isn’t exactly riveting. I think I could have used more interesting words and sentence structure to make my points stand out more. Also if I had incorporated examples from the text in a different way, I think that the essay would have seemed less flat. I didn’t really receive anything new to work on in my peer edits but I think that is because my writing was just adequate enough that it was hard to find something specific to improve upon. I had problems revising my essay for this same reason, nothing stood out as wrong to me so I was unsure how to go about fixing it.

This assignment has changed me as a writer because it forced me to come up with my own ideas to write about. I am not used to thinking for myself in my papers so this was a big shift. My previous English teachers discouraged me from using “I” or expressing my own opinions, it was all about properly citing authors and works. As a person I don’t think that I changed much except that I have maybe become a little less confident about my writing. It’s kind of scary to express my own thoughts with authority in a paper, I am much better at citing other people and focusing more on making my essays interesting. I am slowly realizing, however, that my thoughts are important and that it is perfectly acceptable for me to have definite opinions about things. The way that I read has changed from this assignment as well. As I read “The Last Battle” by C.S. Lewis, which I have read a couple of times already, I began to notice more of the symbolism that he uses in the book and the way that his words emphasize certain ideas and give off a certain feeling. This assignment was very different from anything that I did in high school and even though it was much more challenging than I thought it would be, I think I have learned a lot from it.

Unexpected Joy (the walking essay)

A light silence fills the air, instilling a quiet peacefulness in everything around me. What is usually bustling and tense now seems beautifully still. As I sit on this ancient looking bench placed here by the class of 1937, I realize that U of M has much more history than I originally expected. Suddenly my thoughts drift to a similar day 5 months ago when my dreams changed forever. I had been sitting on a bench under a tree on a rainy day like this crying because I knew that the life I had imagined for myself would never become reality. Two paths lay before me and, while I knew without a doubt which one to follow, I was terrified. My dad no longer had a job and I suddenly had a choice. I could forego my senior year in high school, graduate early, and stay in Memphis with my boyfriend and friends, or I could move for the ninth time with my family. Staying in Memphis meant going to University of Memphis because the money that I had planned on using to go to Rhodes College was gone. This is why I was crying. I had dreamed of attending Rhodes since my freshman year. I loved the trees and beautiful architecture at Rhodes; I could see myself fitting in there. I had never imagined that I would go to anything other than an expensive private college and U of M was impersonal and cheap. I knew that the only way I could remain in Memphis was to go to U of M. I had received enough money in scholarships to cover rent, food, car payments, etc. But I was scared. I wasn’t ready to handle adult problems. I cried incessantly for almost a week and then I stopped, moved on and haven’t thought about these things since. I am surprised to feel all of these emotions rushing back. I moved into an apartment before I was ready to say good-bye to my family, I gave up hope of attending my dream college, and I finished high school online. Sitting here in this peaceful atmosphere has suddenly helped me to accept my decisions as not only the best ones that I could have made under the circumstances, but as ones that will make me truly happy. I feel like I did whenever I visited Rhodes: quiet and peaceful. I trusted in God every step of the way and I finally see how He has brought everything together. I got all the scholarship money I needed to live on after the application dates had passed, my friend randomly decided to find a new apartment and needed a roommate, and I got my high school diploma in less than two months. My boyfriend, Sam, found out that he will most likely get a paid internship at an accounting firm that will pay enough money for us to get engaged somewhat soon. The way all these things have fallen perfectly into place shows me God’s hand in this and that He has given me things that I didn’t even know that I wanted. I have new dreams now. I want to be married instead of going to an expensive school, and I want to be a devoted mom instead of having an amazing career where I travel all over the world. Most of all, I want to discover God’s plans for me in Memphis. Sitting on this bench in the stillness of a normally busy campus, I am now seeing that God has given me the desires of my heart in a completely unexpected way.