Summer Plans

Hi writers,

As the year comes to a close, each of our summer plans are impending upon us.  In lieu of a traditional job/internship/summer courses, I have embarked down a slightly different path to occupy my spring.  I am currently enrolled, and decidedly unprepared for, in NELP (New England Literature Program).  Through NELP, 40 students travel to New Hampshire to a summer camp site where we will reside for 6 weeks.  At the camp, students will take an alternative education approach to studying literature produced in the New England region as well as think differently about oneself and one’s education through journaling.  Students will live in reclusion without the ability to use technology (save flashlights, alarm clocks, and headlamps).  Although I’ve only hear tremendous things from many former participants, I can’t shake the nerves of leaving modern society and being shoved into cabins with complete strangers from the university and the scarce number of participants from other schools.  Despite my fears, I am excited for all that I will come to learn and I’ve already paid the tuition checks so I’m doing this regardless.  Hopefully I’ll have an equally great term as those before me.

#Pivot Reflection

Project Reflection: I really enjoyed the project component of the capstone course.  Throughout January and February I was really struggling to come up with a project that I was truly passionate about.  I had a few ill-conceived perceptions of the type of product that the Minor faculty would expect me to produce, however there was a clear disconnect between that product and my own preferences.  I was trying to incorporate methodologies and formats acceptable in my academic discipline of History with my interests outside the academic realm and things weren’t adding up.  Meanwhile, outside of my course work a friend and I were working on a new pet project of writing a TV comedy series.

I couldn’t have dreamed of using my NSFW written content for a school project, however clearly the Capstone project is very different from most projects.  We were tasked with both creating something interesting and worth reading, as well as finding a way to best present that material in an aesthetic manner.  Because of this duality, I approached the capstone project differently than I would other works.  I decided to make my TV show writing the cornerstone of my project.  As a supplement, I would include various supporting documents that would help the reader fully understand the scope and degree of effort placed into writing a script.

This project tied together work in which my skills developed throughout a variety of disciplines during the Minor.  During the gateway and capstone course, students were encouraged to engage with writing in new ways, think about written conventions and media in an adaptive way.  Throughout my history courses, writing has been a crucial component in conveying a narrative for analysis; in my writing and english courses writing has been a tool for expressing consciousness, sentiment and emotion.  For me, the capstone project brought this all together with the development of my portfolio.  Engaging both perspectives in which I’m creating something I’m truly passionate about and conveying it in my own unique way and also considering the preferences and desires of a neutral audience.

Capstone Reflection: I really loved both the gateway and capstone courses with Ray.  He really got me to think differently about writing and reading (so cliche, I know).  Throughout college when I’ve been encouraged to explore writing not merely as a tool of communication and academic reporting, but also as a creative outlet.  In the capstone course, we spent a lot of time doing peer review and group workshops of eachothers work.  Due to the diverse constituency of the Minor program, this enabled me to think about presenting my work to a wide reaching audience.  I was catering my work and considering perspectives ranging from hard science, premed students, to business school elite future CEOs, to creative English majors.

Beyond peer work, a major emphasis of the course was the writer’s evolution.  We focused a lot on reflecting on our growth both in terms of written aptitude as well as a people. This sometimes demonstrated the effect of life changes on writing (perhaps manifesting as changing disciplines and subsequently changing the accepted form of writing).  For me, as I’ve stated throughout, writing has become a much safer and accessible creative outlet.  I feel comfortable exploring creative ideas through the written word.  Moreover, due to the reflective nature of the assignment, I was able to notice some of my own personal written preferences.  I noticed how defective I am when tasked with menial assignments merely to keep me busy.  But when I’m pushed to engage with something with something that I enjoy and motivated to complete something for myself and not just a grade, I can fully enjoy writing.

Writing Ambitions: So I think I’m actually going to try to make this television show an actual thing.  Over the last few years, even though I’m a year younger than most of you guys, I’ve been really struggling to figure out what exactly I’m doing at school and what kind of career and life I’ll live after graduation; and I haven’t really got a clue.  On one hand, I could see myself falling easily into a 9-5 grind at some corporate job slowly climbing the ranks over the years.  I think I could do well and would feel fulfilled, however I’m not entirely sure how motivated I am to jump into that type of life.  On the other hand, doing something purely creative that I would definitely enjoy more, both in terms of lifestyle as well as the actual work I’d be doing, however this comes at the expense of stable financial situation.  I’m not entirely set on either, and maybe there is a way to make the most of both tracks.

That being said, I’ve finally found something (this TV show) that I really enjoy doing.  I haven’t felt excited about doing something like this years.  As my girlfriend would describe, I look “like an excited lil pup.” My co-creator and I both have a unified vision of what we would want this show to be about and what direction we are headed in.  With this shared vision, maybe we can one day make this show onto a network or something.  Over the summer, my co-creator and I plan on writing out more of the show and working on making this dream a reality.

Other than writing “Dick Schindler,” over spring term I’ll be attending NELP (New England Literature Program).  Over the course of six weeks, attendees live without technology in New Hampshire, studying american literature that was produced in the New England region and exploring the area on various hikes.  Aside from the vast amount of reading involved, a core component of the program is journaling.  Although the journal ultimately is a component of my grades, it serves the purpose of documenting all that I learn and experience throughout the trip.  Without readily available communication with my friends and family, I’ll need to rely on myself to resolve conflict and face myself through the journal.

 

Blind Pig

So absolutely nothing related to the minor/any and all upcoming work (of which there is a ton).  Last night a few friends and I saw a show at the Blind Pig, which was awesome.

The headlining group was called RAC, and they primarily perform/compose “dancey”-pop remixes of popular alternative music.  For example, they have remixed Two Door Cinema Club, Phoenix, Tokyo Police Club, Foster the People, and more. They also have recently started making their own original music.  Aside from plugging this group that I like, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at the Blind Pig.  The venue was fairly small and was a good hike from the diag, but it was well worth it (I took cabs both ways but it would have been a good hike).  The crowd was packed in, but it wasn’t I didn’t feel particularly cramped or like I was constantly being shoved which is a huge drawback of some other smaller venues.  Downstairs there was a pretty cool bar, and some booths for some people to hang around in prior to the show or in between acts.  More importantly, there were a bunch of dart boards for you danger-addicts.  I would definitely recommend you bite the bullet and see a show there before you graduate if you have not.  The tickets typically are pretty cheap; $15-20.

I’ll certainly be back if I have the chance.

P.S. There was free popcorn which was dank

Attn RAYRAY’s Capstone Students

If you’re having any difficulty figuring out the scope of your project or what potential difficulties you may entail in the near future (i’m assuming you, like me, are just really getting started producing actual content for the project), I’d highly recommend completing the Author Self Interview.  Ray’s guiding questions help uncover some of the underlying motivations of why you’re interested in the particular topic/subject of the project and subsequently help reveal what kind of potential issues may be looming.  Doesn’t hurt that its worth 30 points either!

For those of you who are producing more scientific or strictly structured work, this may help serve as a jumping off point for explaining reasons and justifications for your analysis and the form you are writing it (for those people who are producing “reports” and want to have a more colloquial introduction into your analysis).

 

Good luck nerds.

Excellent Bullshit

For one of my history courses, our dear and kind professors thinks that it’s important and useful for us as students to have to read between 150 and 200 textbook pages a week for our GSI-led discussion session.  After 10 weeks, and approximately 1500-2000 pages assigned, I can safely say that I have read less than 100 in total.  That being said, I participate actively in discussion, and am on track to receiving an A for the discussion component of our final grade, amounting to 15%.  While I certainly am not promoting students not doing their assigned work, seeing as many courses reveal that not reading will in fact definitely result in poor grades, it seems as though it is far too easy to get away without learning anything in the course.  If I’m able of emulating the course concepts and sentiments of a given time period without reading a single word of the assigned text, what’s the point of assigning us reading at all, let alone such a daunting amount for one week’s time.

Certainly, I recognize the importance in some courses of understanding both primary and secondary analysis of a time period, I don’t really see the merit in spending multiple hours a week examining a text in which a sentence or two summary would suffice for comprehension and analysis.  Perhaps some professors feel the need to assert the mental rigor of the course by mandating lots of work, or perhaps some professors just like their students suffering.  With only a few weeks left, I have no intention of changing my reading habits for this class.  Why bother?

Spring Break “travel abroad”

A little late, but I wanted to describe my spring break experiences traveling to Amsterdam (for 3 days) and Paris (for 5 days).

First and foremost, the inhabitants of the small, canal based city of Amsterdam were some of the friendliest, most welcoming people I have experienced in my travels to foreign countries.  This probably has something to do with the fact that almost all Dutch people are fluent speakers of English.  Not having any sort of language barrier enabled my family and I to travel conveniently, with the aide of many friendly natives and to experience as much of authentic Dutch culture as possible.  Naturally, we did engage in a few EXTREMELY touristy activities; taking a canal tour of the city, visiting Anne Frank’s house throughout the holocaust, as well as visit the infamous I AMsterdam letters.  These activities were amongst my least favorite of the trip.

The most enjoyable moments of my trip were wandering the local streets, away from the overly commercial areas; far from tourists snapping photos of every object and structure in sight.  We wandered into local, low-key art galleries, small dutch pubs, as well as tried a variety of different native cuisines off the beaten path.

I had a much different experience in my few days traveling through Paris.  In a city with so much culture and art, it was hard to avoid the overly tourist destinations considering it was my first time exploring the city.  This is not to say the sites I saw were not remarkable; I frequented various museums housing priceless pieces of art, the daunting Notre Dame Cathedral, as well as the Lourve.  While each day was packed with walking through different neighborhoods visiting all these neighborhoods, my family and I experienced a much different culture in Paris.

The native Parisians were extremely direct with their requests which was interesting and refreshing, but at times came off as rude.  Moreover, many native parisians were utterly dismissive or condescending to us traveling Americans.  No doubt, this had something to do with the language barrier between the natives and my family.  Even the simplest monetary transactions proved immensely difficult.

Whereas the dutch embraced our American nature, the Parisians were decidedly defective.  Presumably this has something to do with the global perception of Americans as rude, fat elitists.  Maybe next time I travel abroad I’ll brush up on the local languages – perhaps that’ll improve my experience.

Despite this observation, Paris and Amsterdam were both amazing places to travel to.  Both cities contain hundreds of years of visible history; noted in the preservation of art a well as the antiquated architecture.

Self Claims and Referential Items for Capstone Project

I was a tad-bit overtired due to an exam early this morning and was feeling more than my average insurmountable stress and anxiety about the future, so some my self claims are a bit dark…

LIST 1:
-I distract/numb myself to avoid realities of life (in reference to foods, stimulants, and copious TV)
-I’m good at asking myself philosophical questions but not good at answering them (doesn’t help that I’m in a philosophy course and a theological examination of Islam – conflicted about theology/life on a daily basis)
-I value my intelligence
-I can’t help feeling intellectually superior to others against all logic of equality (didn’t know other ppl would see this)
-I am looked up to by others, but am not sure why
-I doubt myself all the time; I doubt my knowledge of things
-I am agnostic (about religion and about all facets of life, anyone that claims fundamental knowledge of something is lying or a narcissist)
-I like watching things (mostly TV/movies, but sometimes ppl too…I’m always watching)
-I prefer sedentary activities (some call my lazy, others call me lazy too)

My attempt at a glorious metaphor didn’t really pan out, sorry Ray.  I wanted to have something along the lines of relating myself to the socratic method, in that whenever I make a discovery or have a revelation it is merely replaced by more confounding questions as opposed to a concrete answer.  (maybe I just did it…)

LIST 2: Quick FYI: my project seems like its going to be a pitch for a TV comedy show about a gang in the Great Depression. Cause what’s funnier than America’s most depressing era? The focus of my references are geared around analyzing other TV/narrative structures in popculture that are effective or ineffective, as well as highlighting some fundamental elements of the Great Depression that I find hysterical (like famine and corruption):

It’s Always Sunny
Boardwalk Empire
Great Depression/Financial trouble
Racial Disparity
Wealth Disparity
Conformity
Scrubs
Game of Thrones
Seinfeld
Prohibition
Corruption of Government/Authority
Desire for power
South Park
Monty Python
Arrested Development
Harry Potter
Famine

Active Procrastination

If any one has an issue with being too productive, trying too hard on assignments and extracurriculars, or the like and is seeking an interventionist to help slow you down; look no further.

I’ve recognized a correlation between an increase in my time spent working on things completely unrelated to mandated work as deadlines and due dates approach.  Notable highlight of this: last week I was assigned to give a 5-10 minute oral presentation on a prominent 17th century philosopher as well as take a mandated quiz for a class on Islamic history.   On top of the typical few hundred pages of reading required as a history major, I had these two rather large deliverables.  As such, within three days I had watched the entire opening season of Justified, amounting to a little less than nine hours.  Additionally, I remained caught up on the current seasons of Shameless as well as House of Lies.

Although I typically do occupy a lot of my time watching TV/movies (which happens to be the focus of my capstone project), it seems as though one of my greatest skills is the ability to distract myself from necessary and important assigned tasks.  Realistically, I should learn from my mistakes, especially as midterms are fast approaching.  However, House of Cards will be released to Netflix this weekend.  So I’m pretty much f*****d (not sure if cursing is allowed/appropriate).

Anyone seeking pointers on effective ways to procrastinate, my skills and aptitude venture far beyond watching TV. I’m chock full of resources and strategies.

The Five (biggest) Reasons Ray Hates Me

1. I turn everything in late: Naturally this tendency would upset many professors. Unfortunately, I exacerbate this issue by turning assignments in only marginally late.  As of this moment, I have completed all required assignments.  That being said, I’d venture to say that about 75% or more of my work has been turned in within the range of one to twenty-four hours after the assigned due date/time.

2. I send Ray redundant emails asking about assignments: Whenever I have a question about the specifics of an assignment, I’m very quick to shoot Ray an email regarding the subject.  Unfortunately for Ray, I’m also very quick to double check all my resources (rechecking the syllabus/ctools assignments) only after inquiring.  This leads me to send a second email to Ray telling him to ignore the first.  Aside from blowing up his inbox, I cannot imagine the frustration of witnessing my repeated lack of precision in producing my work for this class.

3.  I began a majority of my ‘Initial Class Question responses’ with “UMMMM”: Loads of people do this, so I don’t feel all too guilty about this one.

4.  I ask off topic questions related to Ray’s personal life/interests: I like many of my classmates, probably find Ray & his quirks more interesting than the actual work I’m doing and producing.  As such, during many of his long monologues and instructional speeches my mind is wandering regarding personal information about Ray.  If he’s going to give us the opportunity to ask questions, I’m going to ask questions about stuff I’m interested in – namely Ray.

5. My Smiling Face:  Who could ever get mad at my cute, adorable, smiling face.  Cannot begin to imagine the  dissonance my actions cause in the resulting lack of ability to remain angry at me despite all my transgressions.

 

If I’ve learned anything in my semester and a half under Ray’s guidance, it’s the importance and worth of accepting and embracing oneself.  As such, I plan on doing my best to remedy some of these grievances. That being said, to some regard I need to accept the fact that I’m a huge procrastinator and quite charming – and if there’s a way I can use that to my advantage personally and professionally, I’m going to.