Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Rocco, Ivy, and Kayleigh's Articles

Rocco's articles were about masculinity and what society needs to do to foster a more accepting place for young men and boys. What really stuck me was the first article when the author explains how his father died. He also goes on to explain that he used humor to cover up his feelings and make the situation more acceptable for himself and others. I could see his humor right off the bat, and almost didn't believe that his father had really died. I think it is really interesting that humor is such a big part of this article because it almost part of the problem. While the author was able to express himself with comedy, he still he,d back a lot of his emotions in order to keep everyone else from feeling a similar kind of pain.

I found Ivy's articles very interesting and interesting in the fact that she will be looking at death and how we as a society interact with it. I think she has a lot of possibilities with her essay and I'm excited to see where she goes. I really liked the essay about Molly Moran and her missing sister because it includes a lot of the same principles we've been talking about this semester. She even references some of the authors we've looked at. What I liked about her essay was how she was able to identify with her writing students once she began her project. It seems to have been something that she did after healing in some way, rather than it being the biggest source of healing for her.

For Kayleigh's essay, I'm a little confused as to what she will be focusing on other than the unconscious since only one link was posted. But I think she can do a lot, especially with what she talked about after fall break regarding her essay.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Lauren, Charlotte, and Karen's Articles

I found both of Lauren's articles very interesting. The piece on the Blunt Instrument about the idea of white men no longer writing because of their privilege was something I had never thought about, and I think it still relates to me as a white writer. Since taking writing classes here at Ithaca, I've tried to keep my writing from being put into a cultural category, but it is impossible. Of course, my writing will be influenced by the kind of life I live and what I experience, but I don't think that I should silence myself in order to allow other more important narratives a chance to e heard. I don't think white male writers should either. because there is an ear for all kinds of stories.

 I think it was very interesting that the author of the article pointed out that men are more likely to submit work, even if it is incomplete and inappropriate for the publication and instead of stopping writing all together, white male writers should just tone it down a little. It reminded me of a class I took about race and the media (I think). One day the professor brought up the wage gap and told us that he doesn't trust men who argue for a raise for women. Instead, be asks why men can't lower their own wages. Why not? Has that ever been an option? Of course it has, but people want to keep what they think they deserve and giving it up is similar to admitting that it is not deserved.

I also read some really interesting things on the JADED website. The ones that stuck out to me were little poems and letters that people had written to their children, either realistic, metaphorical or potential. Each one made me think that these were the kind of narratives that were written in order for the writer to heal. Rather than just simply handing out some advice or encouragement, theses pieces were directly related to each writer's stories and by writing them they were taking the power back from whatever trauma they experienced.

Charlotte's article about emotional literacy reminded me of a time in middle school where my teacher had us all complete a packet about different leaning types. The packet included little tests and questionnaires about  the kinds of things we responded best to. We also learned about our emotional strengths and whether we were introverts or extroverts. After this we needed to complete a project that reflected our different learning styles. This teacher made sure that throughout the year we all experienced a different kind of learning in the class. We made little magazines, had presentations, and had the freedom to do whatever we wanted for big projects.

I think at its core, we enjoyed this experience because we were all validated for our different skills. We were able to bond with our fellow classmates who shared the same styles and feel unique at the same time. This is essentially the goal of humanity, to feel understood and accepted for the different ways we behave.

I also liked her article about why people hide their emotions, but something that I think was missed was how women are also condemned for not being emotional enough. I've had trouble with this my whole life, probably because I have internalized the no-no that is expressing emotions and have instead been very stone faced in many situations. As a young girl, I might not have cried at a quintessential tear-jerker, but I did during Harry Potter. Women and young girls are expected to be very emotional and are faulted for it, but when they take that advice to "control themselves" they are also faulted. I don't really know if there is a solution for this, but would be interested to hear other ideas besides just talking about the problem.

The Forbes article was also really interesting and fit well with Charlotte's first article. I think that if parents of emotionally intelligence and successful people can teach and impact their children so well, why can't we do this in schools? Why can't emotional intelligence be a skill for a resume? If we can use these people as examples and then continue with that, soon everyone would have some kind of emotional intelligence, right?

I think both of Karen's articles go back to the idea of being understood and belonging. Her first article about the way people make decisions in different cultures, makes me think that while Americans want independence and choice, it is all part of the need to belong. It is what we learn in school, and to achieve that we need to be successful. It almost seems like we have less choices and freedom since we are so bogged down by the idea of success and the very formulaic way to achieve it.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kirsten and Allie's Articles

What I found really interesting about Kirsten's article was one point they made about calming down when feeling nervous, how are you supposed to do that? Anxiety is an issue that a lot of people struggle with and I think that we as a whole are lacking the tools to teach and cope with anxiety. "Calming down" is easy enough to say, but when you think about the meaning behind it, it is difficult to achieve. I think this article really shows the need for emotional literacy and by teaching it to children it will definitely create a space for thinking about tough issues in a new way. Things can be looked at through a more emotional lens without the consequence and taint of taboo like today.

I really enjoyed the links Allie included. I have a little brother and a dad who isn't afraid to admit that he likes Hello Kitty. "I think she's cute" he always says. When we were little me and my sister used to dress my brother up, do his hair and makeup and then take pictures of him after. He had long curly hair that was the softest thing I ever felt. After we cut it it became course and thick. Now he must be a boy. He has to keep up with those stereotypical ideas of masculinity and they are so often challenged that it's almost like walking on eggshells. Now that he's a teenager, those ideas are even more influential, but I think my dad is a strong enough role model for my brother to at least stand firm on his policy of no bug squishing.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Having younger siblings, competition is a natural and inevitable part of life. Ever since they were born, I feel like I have had to compete with them for attention from my parents, attention at school, from friends and relatives. In school, my goal was to have greats that were always better then my sister's, so that it was her and not me that got in trouble. I wanted to be the better daughter and this was an easy way for me to do it. On an even more extreme level, I tried my best to be better at art than her. Both of of parents went to art school, so art has been a major part of our lives. I think by always trying to be better I snuffed out her creative flame and hogged it for myself. But at the same time, while I worked hard, she made friends and had a lot of fun that it would take me years to discover. 

But probably the most memorable instance of competition that I can remember was when I was in elementary school. Both me and my sister were in the same school, since she is only two years younger than me. I remember she came home with a story she'd written in class and both my parents praised her for her creativity. I heard them and knew I needed to write something better. I came home a few days longer with an even bigger story with illustrations and everything. They praised me just the same and I felt like I had won. When I look back on this, I sometimes think that it didn't affect my sister, for her it was a simple assignment in class, but to me it was about being the best daughter. I wonder where she could have been if I had let her take the spotlight? Maybe she'd be in my place here at Ithaca and I'd still be at home. And then other times I think that it was meant to happen, this is what I was meant to be good at and it was because of my sister that I found my path.

In the end, we both got our stories hung up on the fridge for a while before they were carefully tucked away in a box to be kept.  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

"From Trauma to Healing"

In MacCurdy's essay, she talks about the relationship between trauma and memories. She argues that trauma stays with us as snippets of memory rather than the more linear thoughts of everyday life. MacCurdy believes that the best writing comes from healing, because the writer is able to take those ragged emotions and memories associated with the trauma and translate them into another story.

I thought this chapter was really interesting, especially when you consider how a writer is educated. In all of our writing classes, we are asked to write in scene, using vivid images and senses to put the reader in the same space as us. I think these traumatic memories are the stuff that makes up a scene and is why we remember them in such small and vague snippets. MacCurdy's desire for good writing to be healing goes along with the same idea, because the writer is able to get their emotions and memories in order so they can rewrite the story, a story that the reader can then relate to.

I agree with MacCurdy that good writing comes from healing because these traumatic memories an only be made un-traumatic when they are processed and understood--much like the other chapter in this book-- in order to take back the incident and heal.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Personal Essay Exercise

We called it “Monday-itis”.

It was a migraine that slowly crept from the back of my head up to the arch of my eyebrow and sent me to the nurse’s office several times a month. It always hit just before lunch, prompting me to stuff my face with whatever I could reach in hopes that something would make it go away. By the end of school, I was either already asleep in the nurses office/at home or close to vomiting.

After a while, I learned to hide the symptoms, retire to bed early or hide myself in my room for the strict four hours of sleep that would cure me. I hated the way people treated me, pitied me. Some time in fourth or fifth grade, my parents told one of my teachers about the migraines in order to explain why I might not participate or have to leave early some days. A few days later a headache hit and when I asked for permission to go to the nurse's office, my teacher looked at me. His mouth turned down into a deep frown and his eyebrows wrinkled together.

"Headache?" he asked, looking down at me like i was the most pathetic creature he'd ever seen.

All I could so was nod.

I had failed this time, the migraine won, and I threw up all over Katie’s new orange colored converse shoes. We went outside and she used the hose to rinse me off like a dog. I felt worse about covering her shoes in throw-up than I did about the stain on my clothes. 

After, I called my dad. I never called him to pick me up. It felt like I was going against the rules of parenting by calling him instead of my mother. I gave him the only directions I knew to Katie’s house: the way the bus went before it dropped me off. Me and Katie sat on the porch, her shoeless and me with a big wet spot on the front of my shirt. 

I heard my dad’s car in the driveway, and I prepared myself for the new pile of guilt and shame. I was sure he would be mad and annoyed that I'd made him come all the way back from work, given him terrible directions, and gotten sick again. 

He came up to me, eyebrows knitted together in concern.

“Are you okay?” he asked.


One day when I was in middle school, after I'd learned how to get through  day of school with my Monday-itis, my mother came home hours before she usually did.  I had just crawled into bed when she came into my room without knocking. At first I was ready to send her back out with typical teenager vocab. But then I saw her face. 

She came in and sat down on the edge of my bed. Her eyes were watery. I was silent. She explained that Scotty, her cousin, had died. She told me that if I ever felt so sad, so lonely and desperate, that I could talk to her. She never wanted to see me hurt like Scotty did. Typical for my mother, she even threatened to kill me herself if I ever tried to hurt myself. I nodded, understanding for the moment, but not really knowing. 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thought Paper

            For my thought paper, I would like to connect two chapters that we read to create a more fluid sense of the topic for writing and healing. I really enjoyed the chapter on Pathographies and the way in which people come to terms with illnesses and would like to connect it to the chapter before it about the brain. I think the chapter on the brain by Alice Brand was very interesting, but it did not fully address the way in which the structure of the brain can also help a person to heal from their trauma. I think connecting this chapter with the pathographies will really help to make that understanding clear.
            While both of these chapters bring up the idea that logic is stronger than emotion, I would like my paper to focus on the opposite. Rather than simply looking at one side, like both of these chapters, I would like to find the balance between logic and emotion and produce a paper that shows the relationship that exists between the logical and emotional aspects of life. I believe that logic and emotion are intertwined with each other and we often make many decisions with both of these factors in mind, whether we know it or not.  Much like self vs. society, logic vs. emotion is very similar, where one side is greatly influenced by the other simply because more pressure exits around it. Decisions about the self are often impacted by the way society would view though decisions. I think logic and emotion act in a similar way. Logical decisions are also impacted by our emotions as vice versa.
I think both Brand and Hawkins’ chapters will be useful towards my argument, but I also want to use my personal experience with coming to terms with an illness as well as blogs created by my classmates. I think their insight will also help to make this distinction between logic and emotion as well as the way our brains help us to cope with trauma much clearer in my essay.
These two chapters are connected strongly by the fact that people are expected to find an outside source of help before turning back to themselves to find a way to heal. The blogs written by my classmates shows this as well, but many responses come from a place of health since they have already turned back towards themselves to discover what it is that they need to heal. Brand’s chapter on the brain shows that the brain is capable of helping us heal, while at the same time is often the reason behind a lot of people’s pain. In order to get better, Brand’s essay argues that we often try to find a cure somewhere else. The same can be said about Hawkins’s essay These people look to doctors to heal their illnesses, of course, but when that doesn’t work the healing process must occur within. The Pathographies come after the medical reports and the science that these patients research in order to find a cure for themselves. The real cure, the one of true healing comes from the pathographies, which allow each patient to come to terms with their illness and take their lives back.

I’d like to combine these ideas to show the way in which the brain influences our idea of ourselves as well as the world around us. I’d also like to look at the relationship between memories and healing, using Brand’s chapter on the brain to convey this. I think that by combining these two chapters, a much clear picture of writing and healing will be revealed, because we will have the science behind the brain as well as the emotion provided by the pathographies and patient stories.