Introducing: social change & baseball games

As humans, it seems we spend most of our lives waiting in anticipation. For the weekend, the end of exams, seeing a friend, a concert, a movie, to get married, to have babies, to fall in love.

Seconds seem to tick by excruciatingly slow, each hour dragging on and longer than the next. It isn’t until we’ve finally reached that day we’ve been waiting for that we realize how fast time has slipped from our fingers.

Some 100 odd days ago, in the midst of a new semester inducing stress into each minute of my day, I wished for summer. For long days filled with sunlight, the absence of backaches from leaning over textbooks, restful sleeps, and time with friends and family back home.

As expected, I’ve reached the point where summer is not even three days away and I have done a 180: I don’t want to leave. I wished away time and now I’m doing everything I can to try to make up for the fact that I’m unable to get it back.

Despite the countless hours of hard work I put into this portfolio, it almost feels like it was manifested out of the sky, out of atmospheric dust, directly from my mind onto the screen. I look back and try to remember how I got here, but it’s all kind of a blur.

I guess with all this I’m just trying to say take a moment and appreciate each lick of life. It’s sweet and rare and impossible to replicate, to relive. Recognize where you’ve been instead of always looking forward.

I hope my portfolio helps you think about some of these things. I hope it slows your world, the spin of the earth on its axis, for just a moment to allow you a minute to breathe and think and reflect.

If I could summarize my portfolio, I would say it’s about life. I know, it sounds dumb and all too broad. But it’s true, it’s about passion and love and failure and time slipping through fingers like wet sand, slick and all too fast.

I hope that if you read it, if you navigate its pages and read the words encrypted on its body, that you gain a new understanding — and most of all, appreciation — for life.

Thank you.

to-do: gateway

As you can probably already tell by the title, I wanted this post about advice for the Gateway course to come in the form of a list. I love lists. If you don’t believe me, I’ve written a list about all the reasons I love them before.

But, the truth is, I only have one piece of advice that I hope you will take into consideration:

take risks

Here’s the thing about being graduated in a few years and sitting at a desk writing for a salary, or running through a hospital checking up on patients, or sitting in a courtroom: the chances you will have to take risks decreases by 100.1%.

I tell you now, I beg you: write that piece you’ve always been dreaming about attempting, but have been either too scared or not confident enough to try. Dive into unknown genres and swim around, floating in their mystery, dripping in shiny new-ness and that exciting uncertainty. Adapt a different style, one fresh and never-done-before, even one you’re worried you or someone else might hate– because the thing is, who cares if it doesn’t turn out perfectly the way you planned? This is the only time in life it won’t really matter.

This university is a treasure trove filled with a plethora of opportunities. Every day, I’m astounded by the things that I could accomplish here with just a trip to the library or a conversation with faculty on campus. Why not leap into a land you’ve never visited and explore? Now is your chance. The professors and your classmates and the whole department will be cheering you on. So take that leap of faith, even if your eyes are closed, nose plugged.

To quote the great R&B singer of our generation: remember we only get to be “young, dumb, broke *college* kids” for so long. I say take that excuse and run with it. You might end up finishing triumphantly in a race you never thought you’d be conditioned enough to participate in. To put it simply: it’s now or never. So I encourage you to just take that first step.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

It seems like just yesterday I was entering this classroom for the first time, receiving a syllabus and listening to a lecture about these hypothetical experiments. I remember being overwhelmed and confused at the thought of these three experiments, and a final project, and portfolio with everything in between, thinking, “this is not gonna go well.” But now here we are, knee-deep in finished experiments and heads full of fantasies for their final forms, and I’m seeing it all come to a sad, but exciting end.

When I look back, perhaps the most difficult choice I’ve had to make so far in this class is deciding which experiment to realize into my full project. Through the many hours I have put into working on these experiments, I have fallen in love with each one, and have become invested in making them perfect. For that reason, I wish to continue with all of them (and maybe I will) but for the purpose of this class, I can only choose one. Over the weekend when thinking about which experiment to continue as my project, I was caught between the first, which is a graphic novel, and the third, a poetry collection. However, I arrived at the conclusion that with the graphic novel I have already expanded my horizons by challenging myself to draw and piece together a visual project. Now I just want to write some more. I crave it. Thinking up tiny speech bubbles for the graphic novel didn’t satisfy my urge to write. What can I say? I am a writing minor after all.

A poetry collection is a group of poems published together by an author that follow a similar theme or format. The length and quantity of the poems vary, which is something I’m excited to play around with. Because poetry is something I’ve worked with before, I want to challenge myself to do something different. Maybe I will write a specific type of poem that I’ve not done yet, or will experiment with a length I’ve never achieved (my poems are always long so maybe it would be best to try writing a short one).

Because my other two experiments were so closely tied to my origin piece, I want this one to be more loosely based. I want to explore more of the experiences my character endures in my story and think about it in relation to my own life. For this, I think I will just write poems from now up until when the project is due that follow the themes of the story. I want the production of this experiment to be more natural- more vulnerable. I worry that this project may be difficult to organize, but we will cross that bridge when we get to it. After all, I have written three poems already and have plans to write a whole lot more before I consider organization.

Perhaps the thing about this project I am most unsure about is the way it will be presented. For the sample of my experiment, I tried out a couple different things. I thought about a video, with a slide-show type transition between stanzas that moved to the flow of a narrated voiceover. Then I found a website with the affordance of animated visuals that I worked on for an hour, only for them to try and charge me when I clicked the download button. The easiest thing to do would just to plop a title above the left-aligned text like most poetry collections, but I want this project to be unique. I suppose I will return to this question after the poems are written. Sometimes the words themselves tell me how they’re meant to be presented. I just have to listen.

Digging for Courage

Creating the experiments so far has been a lot like riding a roller coaster. And by that, I mean sometimes it can be so thrilling & fun I could cry out in joy. Sometimes, I’m unafraid, feeling risky enough to let go, to throw my hands above my head. Other times, I’m despising that weird feeling in the pit of my stomach & I’m thinking “just get me off this thing, I hate it.” Before each ride, I’m filled to the brim with excitement until I’m next in line, ready to embark, saying, “what on earth have I gotten myself into?”

I struggle with the balance of believing I’m being either too ambitious or not ambitious enough. If I don’t take risks here, now, in college when I’m young & stupid & faced with a bottomless pool of opportunities, then I surely won’t do so in the future. Because then I will have truly written myself into a corner, won’t I?

For fear of boxing myself in, this is why I continue on. Continue on with my graphic novel even though I can’t draw. Continue on with my musical number even when every two lines just feels like some cheesy rhyme. Because I care about this work & this subject matter & I want to push it as far as it will go.

I’m actually not quite sure where I go from here- what the next ride will look like. Will there be sweeping, beautiful poetry, moving swiftly like winding corkscrews? Or maybe a photo essay, frozen in time like you are in the sky before plummeting to the ground? I have made no decisions as of yet what I want this next project to look like, but I anticipate, no matter what ends up happening, as long as I push myself, that I won’t regret it.

I know this is quite the mess with all the metaphors, but perhaps metaphors are the best way to mask uncertainty. I’m a second year college student- I’m supposed to pretend like I know what I’m doing, right?

An Unfinished Story

by: Sydney Wagner

My entire life consists of unfinished stories. Things I’ve written that have never reached their last page, words I wished to say but couldn’t bear to, tomorrow itself and each tomorrow that follows. To me, a story is never quite done, not really. It breathes- it’s living and changing and moving, like a summer breeze, sometimes non-existent, sometimes so strong it sculpts the waves. As a writer, I face a constant dilemma: give in to beginning a new story that’s been cracking open my insides, dripping in mystery and begging to be discovered, or finish that something old that has never evolved into its final form, that either needs touchups or proofreading or still has foreign places it wishes to soar to.

Then there are stories that are combinations of both: unfinished and waiting to be explored, while built solidly in the crevices of my imagination. These are the stories that whisper to me while I’m asleep: I still have so much to say. I’m ready to be transformed.

There’s a specific story that whispers this to me still. It’s short, unfinished, hidden in a notebook in the mess of my bedroom and begging to be transformed. It goes by the name of Diamond. It is a story of struggle. It is a love letter to baseball, and the seemingly surprising sometimes small things us humans find we are passionate about. It is a discussion of finding security in the chaos of life. It illustrates the life of a girl fighting to live in a world where the odds are stacked against her. The truth of this narrative speaks to her determination, the way in which she is everything I wish I could be.

This fictional girl I have created has whole bookshelves-worth of stories written in her DNA, her day-to-day, the insides of her brain. I crave to take these stories and flip them inside out and upside down and on their heads, to see them from every angle and point of view. Something about the way this character carries herself and goes about living speaks to me. The things she whispers are worth shouting, and in every mode possible, whether painted on a billboard or strung throughout a melody or plastered on a TV screen.

Her story needs to be shared. And that’s why I want to dig it out to shape and mold it with my hands a million times over- so that it may reach everyone, and so that not one person fails to understand.