March Madness

One of the better March Madness commercials I’ve seen is one from Buffalo Wild Wings, which assures the wives of husbands who’s husband has gone rouge to watch the NCAA basketball tournament at the restaurant chain that their men will resume responsibility in April, after the championship game, of course.

http://www.ispot.tv/ad/AbNx/buffalo-wild-wings-dropping-off

I reference the commercial because it sums up my month of March with regards to the writing process. Sure, I am a huge sports person and I do have money on Oklahoma winning the Big Dance, but the real (or rather my) problem is the madness associated with second semester senior year. It seems that Spring Break marked the point of no return in terms of my friends letting lose. They got into medical school, settled on law school, got jobs, decided they had done enough early on to pass their pass/fail classes. They got senioritis, which is fine because they have worked their behinds off every semester until then.

Once the friend who was ahead on all of her work and ready to participate in whatever adventure from whatever friend was up for it, I find myself stressed by all the fun to be had. Of course, it’s my own fault, but it feels like all the time I’ve set aside to write has been scheduled over by a new restaurant or a drinking holiday or a nap to recover from a friend’s birthday or a last-minute interview or, well, basketball. The result has been nearly a week of no progress whatsoever, the realization that the project is due in one month, just three weeks after the conclusion of March Madness.

It also means that there is no time for writer’s block on free, lazier Sundays that should be spent writing the day away. Low and behold, feeling lost on a Sunday has gotten me no further than this blog post. Also there is a couple sitting across from me play fighting and kissing, so that’s not helpful, but I digress.

With St. Paddy’s Day behind us, I am hopeful that some of this madness is behind us. Then again, I have Wisconsin beating No. 2 Xavier at 8:40 pm ….!

Capstone weather forecast

We began yesterday’s class by using weather metaphor to describe the state of our Capstone project and I have to admit that I was thoroughly encouraged that, according to said forecasts, we are (for the most part) all doomed. Of course, most were likely being melodramatic, but I took as much comfort in the shared panic as I did the helpful advice Raymond provide to calm our fears.

My own weather forecast was that of a drought in Africa, which is to say that I simply did not have enough words on paper. I’ve had a dry, arid spell of writer’s block since what feels like the second I decided on the topic for my project. I then compared the impending mess I would make to the rainy season. As I think about the analogy further, though, I am praying for a flood. A flood would mean content. A flood is worth 30 pages of writing.

Since that exercise and yesterday’s class, I’ve been able to get a little bit more out, but it is not nearly enough. Feeling the weight of 30 pages, I believe, is what stops me from producing in the first place — the fear of screwing up the first sentence means there is no use in pressing on 29.95 more pages. In that recognition, though, I’ve been able to make progress.

As I move forward, then, I will welcome the first few rain drops and continue to let my writing lead me to my next point of research. Further, as I research, I will document my reactions towards that content, keeping track of the questions that come up for me as I read. Let it rainnnnnnnnn.

 

 

 

Capstone project ROI

I think I speak for a number of us when I say that I am afraid that, simply because I am so invested in my Capstone topic, that anything short of full effort and successful completion will hurt all the more. The failure will not be a B paper, but a disservice to the vision. In turn, I am afraid to start, fearful that the intentions behind my project will be as good as it gets. The stakes are higher, and I’m looking for an equally high return.

With that in mind, I think personal investment will serve me, and the lot of us, in the long run. In other words, I will look to use that fear of failure to prevent it. Sure, it may come together in April, but it will come together. I hope further that this project will be something I can execute to its full capacity down the road — given the utopian world of unlimited time and resources we discussed in class. I’ll include it in my memoir one day. When I have the time.

Which brings me to my next fear…time. I am a second semester senior who works out twice a day and watches plenty of Netflix. But I am also working for a major corporation three days a week, trying to find a job for after school, looking forward to a spring break. These are daily distractions that make it hard to jump into research and writing. In the interim, I cannot get myself to write my writer’s evolution second draft, not out of procrastination but out of a whole host of fears that aren’t worth mentioning here.

So I’ve resolved myself to turning the calendar. Looking at March, I plan to hold myself accountable to blocks of time out of my apartment where I will work on the Capstone project. In theory, the more time I block the better the result.? I was never any good at Econ 101, so who knows.

Presentation frustration

There were several times during yesterday’s class when I thought “I wish I could pay someone to do this sh*t for me.” We looked a sites that were hand-coded or aesthetically pleasing or structurally mind-blowing. It was intimidating to see those final projects and compare them with my initial ideas for my wholesome little project. I thought about how I could just tell someone (a computer scientist, perhaps?) what I want my website should look like, what media and features I want included,  and when I want it. One step further, I would have someone shoot and edit the media I want to include in the project itself. My Gateway portfolio should be persuasion enough that I need a bit of technology help. Let’s just say that if outsourcing were within the rules of this game, I’d say I would be willing to pay a couple hundred.

Since it isn’t, I suppose I’ll take this time to express my frustration with the idea of picking a platform to house my Capstone project and the distain I have for the requirement to include media in the project. As someone who is creative more in thinking than in practice, I am able to understand the value of media or medium as adding to written content, but I do not think that all writing deserves or demands it. In other words, I’d argue some pieces are most powerful as text. This is not to say that my project will be a glorious work of art in a Word document, just to that I am having a hard time looking for ways to add media, so in those moments of frustration, I tend to think the requirement is silly — this is a writing course after all!? As far as the platform or the website choice, I am lost as well. Because all of these sites are customizable with different features, I find myself unwilling to see past the sample and into these templates with my project in them. Thus, my initial choice is to pick the easiest, simplest tool to work with. What if I do suddenly feel inspired to insert a digital magazine or make my project interactive or make things appear or……?

Anyone else feeling similarly?

On the Project Proposal

Today we were asked to blog about how our Capstone projects and proposals have changed over the last two+ weeks. Today I am here to report that I am still the girl writing about boob jobs. Which is a good thing, I suppose, because it was the first (okay, second) idea I brainstormed for the project and because we have been warned that we should be excited about a topic that will stick with us through the entire semester.

In terms of evolution, I feel like I have come a ways in terms of envisioning what this final product will look like, how I will in fact write 30+ pages about boob jobs. I feel confident that I will have enough anecdotal and scholarly material, though I will constantly need to keep in mind that there will need to be balance kept throughout.

That said, I do need to work on my articulations of this project, to be more clear about my intention for final product and its execution. And because I am better at writing than speaking those articulations, I think it is time for me to start writing, specifically the personal elements. There are moments during the day where I think “this is good stuff for my project,” but I haven’t taken the time to journal those moments. Because I anticipate the narrative aspect of this piece to be woven throughout, chronicling my observations, memories and experiences first will allow me to later pick and choose what is and is not included, and where.

Finally, I think my original idea for this piece was entertaining in nature. I realize that I have moved away from that a bit, considering some of the heavier implications for this topic, but it is still a spirit I hope to capture in balance throughout my paper. I doubt I will be able to write something without sarcasm, anyway, but I want to remind myself to refer back to my original inspiration, which is a creative nonfiction piece about a woman who eats dog food for weeks. (“No wonder they call me a bitch” by Ann Hogdman, for those wondering).

Lift, tone, burn

Tuck, hold, squeeze, pulse, curl, breath, circle, freeze. I swear I hear these words in my sleep.

I am three weeks into my membership at Pure Barre, Ann Arbor, and while I love the way I feel after taking a class, sometimes I find myself more enamored with the cult-like nature of the exercise studio than I am the workout.

For those who don’t know, barre is the next Pilates and the Yoga for women who like their workouts scheduled and spoken to them but who just can’t sit still. It involves, yes, a ballet bar — although there isn’t a whole lot of grace associated with it, from my end — along with light weights, a ball, and some sort of stretching tube. The idea is to use the body’s resistance, small controlled movements and high repetition to push the muscle to exhaustion — which induces a very funny looking quaking, especially when you’re on your tip toes — in order to change its shape. And while each class is nearly identical, barre is never easy. The better you know the postures, deeper you feel what they call the “mind-body connection,” the more out of breath you’ll be. Not to mention that the instructors are trained in motivational speaking and will come around to ensure your leg lifts to you “challenge pint,” should you think about lowering it for a break.

I love it. I shelled out an arm and a leg for an unlimited package for the entire semester and as I sit here writing about it, my muscles are jumping to get back. And for what it’s worth, I’ve seen my body change for the better. And I’ve considered throwing away my education to become a barre teacher, but that’s another blog post.

What’s more interesting to me, or rather more relevant for the purposes of my capstone project, are the dynamics of these classes and the women who participate in them. Take, for example, the Pure Barre “look.” The studio requires long or crop leggings and socks, which is code for at least one article of clothing from Lululemon or Athleta — there is more brand loyalty in that room than in Starbucks on South U during finals — and the Pure Barre socks, which are black with colored dots, for individuation of course. It’s a barrier to entry (on top of the membership) that makes these women constantly invest back into the organization, money to buy clothing specifically to wear to class or time to coordinate outfits that will convey access to that clothing.

The other day, I watched three girls get in an Uber after a 9 am class. Yeah.

Anyway, I’ll spend the rest of my semester — five to six days a week! —  recording the norms and rituals associated with this cult-like workout, all the while working to … lift, tone, burn??

“I’ve blocked off brilliance”

My appointment to write this blog post and then the rough draft of this daunting paper was supposed to start at 1:30, after I got home and fed myself, entered emails and had my daily panic attack about post-graduation plans. It’s after 3 now so I suppose it’s time to get crackin’.

For me, entering into a piece of writing that reflect on my evolution as a writer is scary, primarily because I absolutely hate re-reading my own work, even years after the fact. It was handed in riddled with errors that the professor probably chose to overlook or it just sucks.

I am the kind of person who punctuates the last sentence, hits submit and walks away. I don’t read teacher comments or peer feedback, even though it’s usually overwhelmingly positive when I do take a peak. Even when I know my work was good or great or worth the A grade it got. That sentiment has held true for me as a person, my mother will attest to that one. I hate photographs because I hate looking at what I looked like yesterday. I hate mirrors because, well, they force me to reflect. And as far as habit change, I’ve had four stress fractures in the last two years and I just got a new pair of running shoes, so I’ll be on the treadmill soon. I haven’t changed. That is the quirk I will try to address in my Writer’s Evolution paper, however messy that may get.

9 hours — minus time for a restaurant week dinner — to go!

Early thoughts on the Capstone project

I want to write about boob jobs. Seriously.

My inspiration for this topic is (shocker) my own insecurities about the size of my chest and the various ways being boy chested has impacted my life. I’ve pestered my parents about getting an augmentation ever since I figured I fell in the short end of the gene pool my little sister developed a larger chest than I and birth control seemed to “affect” every one of my friends besides me. Obviously I haven’t gotten one yet, party because they haven’t agreed that surgery would make a good graduation present, partly because I haven’t been able to fully able to wrap my mind about changing my body in that way. Some days I think that all of my problems would be solved if I got a boob job. Other days I look down at the six inch scar on the outside of my left thy and think “there’s already enough foreign material in your body and you’ve got a giant butt anyway.”

So really, I want to write about the decision to get breast implants — the social, psychological, gendered and organizational pressures that bring a woman to elect to a surgery to put silicon into her body. I want to research perfectionism and the ways it manifests both in my own life and in organizations associated with attractiveness.

Right now, I am looking at creative nonfiction for my form, taking a nod from writers like Ann Hodgman who wrote about eating dog food and researching the pet food industry. While my personal stake in this topic will serve as my narrative ad a form of self discovery, I intend for my research to become a business proposal either to my parents or myself as to the virtues (or lack thereof) of getting implants. Ultimately, creative nonfiction will allow me to achieve both and, perhaps most importantly, write satirically such that my final product will be smartly entertaining.

I’ll combine my fascination with sports and my background in Organizational Studies to address the following questions and more:

  1. Who are breast implants for? Are they for the self, the man or the woman?
  2. What is society’s consensus on boob jobs? Is it more important to be natural or to be busty? How do opinions vary among different organizations or cultures?
  3. How big is too big???

Form/Genre:

  • organizational theory, sociological theory
  • Satire, creative nonfiction, personal narrative

Object/Subjects:

  • Myself, women in exercise classes
  • Breasts

Nuances or confounding variables:

  • Extensive observational/field research accompanied by medical and organizational research
  • Application of theory balanced by satire

 

~ The girl who wants to write about boob jobs.

E-imported!

Wellllll, here goes nothing!

I woke up this morning late because my roommate was “getting sick” at three in the morning last night so I figured… sleep ’til you wake up, Erin. Run, laundry, go to work on re-mediation project and BOOM iMovie will not let me voiceover my poem onto my video. No worries, I say to myself, I didn’t want to put my voice over the video anyway, I’d rather just leave the poem down as a transcript and let the video speak for itself as if it really were being played in Yankee Stadium. It’s OK.

At 4:00 pm I walked into my exam room to find people who did not look like International Studies majors taking an exam that wasn’t mine, only to realize the exam had been given six hours earlier. So with that, I cried a little, emailed my professor (taking it tomorrow at noon…phew) and went to finishing up this e-port. It was both painful and fun, and something I’ll work to improve upon when I have a spare moment by the ocean. Until then, I hope everyone has or had a better finals weekend than I did.

http://eelennon.wix.com/eelennon

John Mayer-inspired

The power was out and it looked as if the rain would start at any moment, but it was still spring and still warm enough to choose between pants and shorts and so I wasn’t complaining. John Mayer played and told me to say what I need to say and so I didn’t rush to the gym, I sat in my bed and wrote in Microsoft Word without the Internet and the pomegranate candle burned. It was peaceful, not finals-drenched clarity.

With summer vast approaching — and no sign of concrete plans for those four months yet nailed down — we, I, tend to find ourselves basket cases. There is the grind of finals, the anxiety of moving, FOMO (which I just learned to be fear of missing out) about those who get to stay in Ann Arbor over the summer, awe that the semester has flown by, sadness and excitement for beaches and old friends. It’s a time for reflection on the year past and a time to evaluate what comes next. We are in college but suddenly we’re almost not in college anymore. We have four, maybe two semesters left in this wonderfully weird town, so we can count down the days til summer or hope that May never comes but something is going to give soon. Last night, I sat in bed and turned on Netflix like I usually do, but instead, I turned to the website I’ve been working on bit by bit, looked through it and started to add some of the writing to the blank pages I’d created.

For a long time, I’ve thought about the E-portfolio prompt and shook my head because it wasn’t due for weeks or months and I’d probably never get it done anyways … “It’s not going to happen.” But now it is the end of the year, the point at which we can reflect on all the time wasted (this could have been long done after all) or to evaluate ourselves, to figure out where we’re going. I choose to do and to go forward because writing is reflecting but the wind is pushing us forward into summer. My E-portfolio will get done — and I might even like the finished product — and this semester will come to a close and it will be summer, summer without classes, summer filled with longing to be back and longing to stay with feet firmly planted in hot sand. I’m not sure which longing will prevail but I do know this: writing is reflecting and if nothing else, I will take the time to sit with my feet in the sand and I will write — on paper or on my computer with a good pair of sunglasses on — and I will figure out where I’ve been and where I’m going. As for my mediation project, well that’s another story and I might need a pina colada before tackling that elephant in the room.

Take all of your so-called problems, better put em in quotations.

Thanks, John Mayer, I think I just might.