Wordprest

I ended up being so captivated by the blogs I found that was hard for me to stop reading long enough to write this post.  This wasn’t what I was expecting — I figured I’d find something decent to blurt a post about, and then move on with my massive pile of homework.

The blog I really got caught up in was The Frailest Thing, Michael Sacasas’s blog about technology.  At the top of the page he has a quote:

“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” – Marshall McLuhan

This quote and the blog’s subject matter resonate with me maybe more than any blog has in the past (my reading voice feels silly saying “blog” over and over again), because it addresses both the wonder and the dread that comes alongside modern technology.  My brother works at Google; I feel that combination of excitement and apprehension any time I discuss the future with him.  Sacasas’s writing can be pretentious at times, but it’s so thoughtful and curious that I can’t hold that against him.

Sacasas’s blog is simply organized, which I like because I don’t want any distraction from the complex ideas contained in each post.  The home page, predictably, has his most recent posts in receding order.  There are links to a short “About This Blog,” to a page with articles he’s written for outside venues, an entire page on “the Borg Complex,” and a helpful tab marked “Themes” that divides up his writing based on (youguessedit) themes, like education, memory, religion, and how they all relate to technology.  Simple format, complex ideas!

 

To relax after all that painful brainthought, I spent some time on The Middlest Sister, a webcomic “painstakingly cut and pasted from scrap paper and other garbage,” which is pretty awesome.  It’s more about everyday humor and experiences and telling stories in a new way without delving too deep into philosophy, which I think is an important perspective to keep around while I’m freaking out about Google Glass.  I encourage you guys to check both these sites out!

William Seward’s would-be assassin
from The Frailest Thing

 

 

Hey Look I Made A Video

Apparently I can’t upload video to this site!  Bullshit!  However, I was able to upload the video serving as my blog post it to YouTube.  This right here is the only link available to my videblogpost so treat it with care.  It’s pretty clumsily done and I obviously have not a single clue what to do with myself on camera but it was fun to practice and I’m really excited to learn more about the movie-making process.

Losing it with John Stamos

Confession: I never really liked Full House. But even though I never was a fan, I still never thought of John Stamos as a separate person from Uncle Jesse, his character on the show.

Things changed a few weeks ago, when I found myself unable to pull away from John Stamos’s new video series, Losing it with John Stamos.  On it, he interviews a bunch of celebrities about how they lost their respective virginities.   It’s hilarious.  There’s no mention in any of the videos what inspired JStam to undergo this investigation, but he looks good, he talks good, and he pulls it off.

Perhaps the strangest aspect of these videos is that every one has, along with the interview where the celeb is telling their story, a sort of puppet show acting it out.  Sometimes it’s barbies, sometimes it’s animated, sometimes it’s muppet-style.  It’s always very, very weird.  Somehow, they pull that off too, and it often makes it even more hilarious/poignant/touching.

For my own personal remediation, I’m considering doing a similar kind of thing, where my story is interspersed with animation or moving imagery in some manner, although probably in a less weird way than this is done.  I’m not very artistic though, so if I can’t pull it off then I might go with a podcast instead, which would also be fun.

The Way I Write – Strategy

I’m definitely an acolyte of Anne Lamott’s “shitty drafts” strategy.  Generally before I write anything real, I have to take a moment (or a day) to scribble in my notebook, starting with the first things that comes to mind and rattling of whatever comes afterwards.  Usually, this draft truly is shitty.  I used to think those drafts were more valuable, more “pure,” because they had my first thoughts and weren’t bogged down by what came after.  Now, I realize that part of a writer’s duty to her reader is to scrape all the residual brain-gunk off a piece so that all that’s left is exactly what she wants to say.

Even when I’m writing something academic and non-creative, I almost always write a quick stream-of-thought about the topic, about the information I have and my perceptions on it.  Usually this is where I get my thesis and most of my main points, and from there I can draw up an outline and continue developing my ideas.  My creative writing could probably benefit from that same outline process, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet.  That would be a good thing for me to try in the near future!

 

Repurposing: This essay is like the Christmas of essay assignments (how long can titles be, anyway? can I make my title a whole sentence long? how about four sentences long?)

slothyorkin

I’m not going to waste time with false modesty — I have a really good idea for my repurposing essay.  It comes from the privilege of being able to spend last winter semester studying in Costa Rica, when I had the opportunity of planning and executing my own research project, as well as writing a long fifteen-page followup paper.

I went to Yorkin, an indigenous Bribri community on the border of Costa Rica and Panama.  Previously, it had been accessible only by river, but just a month before I got there the municipality built a road; I spent my time in the community talking to people who supported the road and people who opposed it, trying to figure out why it was built, why some people were opposing it, and how people expected it might affect Yorkin.

During this time, I was living with a huge extended family in a stilted thatch-roof house, stumbling over Spanish and going to three-hour Adventist church services and beginning to understand the family and community dynamics.  So much happened behind-the-scenes of that research paper, and ever since I got back I’ve wanted to write about the actual experience, rather than just the road.  This repurposing essay is just the excuse I need!

My research paper is full of information about community dynamics, because it was almost entirely based off of interviews with community members, as well as statistics and outside information from other indigenous groups.  I kept a journal every day (although much of it was lists of not-white-rice foods I would eat once I got back), and I plan on looking back at those journals and re-framing my experience with a more narrative, rather than research-based, lens.  It will be nice to be able to discuss my experience as a subjective formative experience, rather than as a project.

My repurposed essay is most likely going to come out in a memoir/creative non-fiction style, unless I suddenly feel compelled to write a longform poem or a five-page song.  I took a class over the summer that focused on the personal essay, and I really enjoyed that format.  I don’t think I’ve been this excited about an essay in a long, long time — it’s such a good opportunity to reexamine my time abroad and think about that place in a different way.

 

Why I Write, or a long fall from the top

fifth gradeMy writing career peaked when I was eleven or twelve years old.  I won first place in the library’s middle school writing contest for a short story very nearly plagiarized off one of Madeleine L’Engle’s more obscure novels, though at the time I thought it had sprung from my own mind.  $250!  Two hundred and fifty dollars, a three-week salary at my current movie theater job, all for two days of deadline-crazed writing and ten unedited pages!  That’s when I realized: writing was a racket, and I was a prodigy born to milk that cash cow dry.

After that, I made one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  I stopped writing, unless it was for a contest, and even then only if that contest was for money.  I had somehow picked up the idea that my writing skills were like the dollars in my meager savings account, and that I had to choose wisely or I’d run out when the really important stuff came around.

I won every school contest for a year or two, and then the big wake-up call came.  I submitted again to the contest I’d won in sixth grade (some depressing stream-of-thought five-pager I’d been inspired to write after reading the high school winners from the year before) and waited impatiently for the letter telling me I was a finalist, even up until the day before the awards ceremony.  When my brother finally suggested not-so-gently that maybe I hadn’t been selected even in the final group, it cracked a big wide hole in my writing ego that I didn’t recover from until, don’t laugh, my senior year of high school.

The past few years have been discouraging, trying to recover from the five-year hiatus I took while all my scribbling peers were refining their talent.  In elementary and middle school, I wrote because I was the best, and everyone knew it.  It was my thing.  Now, I have to admit that I’m way behind my classmates, and I have to work at it anyway — not because I’m the best, but because writing makes my life better, makes me wrap my head around the world in a way that helps me understand its patterns and complexity.  In order to improve, I’ve stopped comparing myself to the intimidating talent of other people my age, and focus only on putting my own words on the page.

Effing What?

I found Effing Dykes soon after I’d come out as bisexual.  Although I grew up in Ann Arbor, one of the most liberal towns in the country , my own adolescence had been focused more on studying and bible group than exploring fluctuating concepts of gender and sexuality.  I had finally recognized and acknowledged a crucial part of my own identity, but that was where it seemed to end.  I had no close gay friends to ask questions of, and most of the resources available seemed to be a)geared toward men and b)more focused on heading off depression in the Homosexual Youths than in discussing community, norms, things like that.

Although I appreciated being given the number of the Suicide Hotline every time I opened a pamphlet on LGBTQ issues, what I really needed was a guide on how to hone my gaydar, a diagram on how to wear a bow tie, a gallery of lesbian women sporting fake mustaches.  That’s what I got when I found Effing Dykes — that and so much more.

At a time when most of the official resources offered to me were solemn manifestos on Prop 8 and discrimination, Krista’s hilarious posts made me see a different side of my identity, one that could be light and funny and apolitical.  She begins every post with a new politically incorrect (but never unoriginal) greeting: “hiya clam-jammers!” “How’s it goin’, clit whisperers?”  When a bunch of states were passing gay marriage laws, she wrote a post worrying that the acknowledgement of gay marriage would deligitimize her reasons for being a commitment-phobe.  Her posts are full of pictures of Real Lesbian Women and innovatively unprofessional use of font types, sizes, and colors.  Effing Dykes taught me not to take gayness so seriously.

On August 7, 2013, Krista posted that after 5 years of continuous blogging, Effing Dykes was going on indefinite hiatus.  I’ll miss her colorful monthly commentary, but I’m ready to carry on the torch of lighthearted gaiety (gaiety, get it?).