Sorry I’m late, I thought I published this but never did.

Looking over the writing I’ve done in the past couple of years, I couldn’t establish any set thing I did in order to get any of these projects off the ground.

In other words, I don’t have any rituals. I wish I did and I’ve tried very hard to think of some but then it felt too forced and I also wasn’t very inspired so all I could think of is making myself a cup of tea. I try to listen to music when I write but if I’m honest, as of the past month or so, I haven’t really been able to write even with all of the music I usually turn to (Fleetwood Mac, Lorde, and Elton John mostly).

I thought having to do this blog post could prompt some inspiration while I tried out different rituals when I sat down to write, but instead, I started panicking even more than I have been when faced with a blank page.

Most of the writing I’ve done in the past few years has been creative non-fiction that has come straight from my life which can come quite easily from memory — like Joan Didion spoke about in one of her essays (or at least I think it was her) you can watch it like a movie in your head and then just describe the movie. Maybe that’s my ritual for writing (at least my non-fiction) — replaying the movie in my head.

 

My Capstone: The Open Ended Conundrum – Challenge Journal #2

I like direction. Well, I am most comfortable when I know which direction I am headed towards. I write essays and complete projects in this frame of mind, tracking my steps and pacing my way to the finish. I feel comfortable.

The capstone project has challenged me to create my own purpose. For the first time, I am not asked to follow traditional rubric oriented academic procedures. I have been trying to brainstorm ideas for the past week, however, I always refer back to a great worry. I ask myself, “What if I pick a topic that I end up not enjoying to research? This will make my semester much less enjoyable.” I was afraid to pick a topic that I could grow disinterested with – until I heard P Carl and Claudia Rankine speak.

Carl and Rankine addressed transforming Rankine’s book “Citizen” into a theatrical performance. I expected a discussion about the difficulty of bringing words to life. However, the conversation shifted to address Rankine’s process, similar to my capstone brainstorming sessions.

Rankine specifically spoke about how some of her best ideas occurred when she was writing to some other end, completely shifting her ideas in an instant. In fact, this sequence was so common that her original intention of bringing “Citizen” to life completely shifted to developing a completely separate theatrical performance.

Upon hearing how such an established and seasoned author/playwright goes through this process, I immediately became less worried about this happening to me. I examined the worst-case scenario being shifting my project to some other topic that I could be even more excited about.

I very much appreciate P Carl and Claudia Rankine visiting the University of Michigan. While I went in to the discussion thinking that I would take away ideas about expressing individualism and the importance of collective communities, I took away a very needed assertion: To not be afraid to shift directions in my own work.

Now, I am even more excited to begin my capstone project. The open-ended nature doesn’t intimidate me. I will take the weekend to continue to brainstorm potential ideas. When this list is compiled, I will move ahead with the option I am most excited about. I will also hold on to my brainstorming list in case I would like to add to or completely shift from my original idea. I thank P Carl and Claudia Rankine for showing me that this is not only okay, but beneficial.

 

Challenge Journal #2: Fun with modes

SO HOW ABOUT THAT PRE-POSAL, AM I RIGHT?

It’s a fun time, we’re all having a fun time, there’s no need to worry or panic hahahahaha.

 

But really though, it’s a little more difficult than I anticipated.

Here’s the thing: the fact that we are supposed to come up with four different topic ideas/proposals for this one project is not that big of a deal. I am genuinely having fun with some of the proposal ideas, despite what the introduction to this post may otherwise indicate. Particularly, I am really enthusiastic about this one pre-posal that involves creating a podcast series based on academic interests towards creative non-fiction and story telling. The problem is trying to choose topics that I feel would be engaging in nature; I don’t want to write one or two pre-proposals that I am absolutely enthralled in, only to have the other half/possibly more be projects I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. For instance, if this podcast falls through, I would like to have another project that I feel just as-if not more-enthusiastic about.

The other concern I have is having said pre-posals be substantial and backed up with the work I did for the other minor in writing classes. It would not be too difficult to choose one class in the minor that I adored and to focus my topics based on said class; but that does not do justice to the other classes I took, resulting in possibly shoddy research. So to prevent this dilemma, I decided to try to find common threads between the classes that constitute my minor and make those areas topics for this assignment.

And honestly? It’s a good idea in theory, a wee bit more difficult in practice.

There are some wild cards in the mix that is making the finding of said connections a little more challenging than I would have liked (for instance, a psych research class, a peer consultant training class, and the multimodal gateway class). In terms of class-content, it’s turning out to be a particularly difficult task to find common threads between them. So that resorts to me looking at the objective criteria that these classes wanted me to practice: considering multimodality, purpose, etcetera. But that ties back into the first problem, the one with being engaged in creating it: all of us have substantial knowledge and awareness of these facets of writing and have considered them many times over. Therefore, I’m not sure if such topics would be interesting enough for me to work on for a solid couple of months.

While it feels similar to another project type in an earlier minor in writing class (creating a substantial research topic regarding writing pedagogy in Writing 300), this one is particularly more challenging in that I should try to connect as many of my minor in writing classes as I possibly could. For the Writing 300 class, I only had to worry about it relating to writing pedagogy: still a vast category, but much more liberating in terms of available research and evidence. 

Maybe I could play around with what shape this capstone project should take. Despite the fact that the writing pedagogy topic I chose in the writing 300 class was something I enjoyed, I equally enjoyed the medium with which said project took shape in. I also did have fun in some of my minor classes tinkering around with multimodality, so that’s something I’ll probably consider now: compensating for the limited amounts of substantial topics I have by playing around more with the mode in which such topics would take shape in.

Hopefully I’m not overthinking this/am not the only one overthinking this possibly minor (MINOR in writing pun/dad joke!) project at all? Please let me know if that is the case, would appreciate any and all feedback. 🙂

Bye Buddy, Hope You Find Your Dad

I am never good with introductions, so I thought I’d start with something that has basically been consuming my life for the past 24 hours (other than trying to find out the name of a song to which no one seems to know.) The movie Elf seems to be influencing my life a lot lately — I was interviewing someone yesterday and he brought it up, and the title is also my a go-to goodbye for a lot of my friends at work — so I thought what better way to start off an introduction?

Other than this past week though, Elf hasn’t really affected my life all that much, so I now have to somehow figure out a transition from that to telling you about my life. I kind of feel like that was a good enough transition though, so here are a few quicks hits about me (formatted for easy digestion):

  • I grew up in White Pigeon, Michigan (a village of 1,500 people in southwest Michigan)
  • I love sports (especially gymnastics and hockey #LGRW)
  • I’m re-reading the Percy Jackson books because they are GOLD and no one can fight me on that
  • My favorite colors are green and blue
  • I have red hair (which is literally the coolest thing about me, less than 2% of the world’s population has red hair ALSO it’s a genetic mutation along with blue eyes which I also have so basically I am a genetically-mutated gem)

*As a side note, I tried to post the video of the song I’m trying to find but unfortunately another fun fact about me is that I’m not exactly tech-savvy, so that will have to wait for another day.

Words from a hillbilly

My name is Nia and I come from a small town. Like, really really microscopic-level small. I tell people I graduated with 80 people in my class and their first response is “Oh cool you went to a private school!” to which I reply: nope. It was painfully public.
Laingsburg is located 30 minutes north of Lansing (the city I tell people I’m from in every college icebreaker) and is surrounded by corn fields for ten miles in any given direction. A quarter of the school population is in FFA (Future Farmers of America, for those of you who don’t know), there is an annual “drive your tractor to school day,’ and yes, like the country school stereotype, almost everyone is related by blood or marriage. After all, it’s a town that no one leaves or enters. An island in the middle of Michigan. But when I was growing up, I was an island within that island.

My mom is from New York, my dad is from North Dakota, both taught at MSU when I was young, so I lived equidistant from the highway that leads to Lansing and Laingsburg. My parents thought it would be good for me to be involved in a small town community, but little did they know the exclusion that came without having any family ties within the town.

This isn’t to say I didn’t have friends growing up. Two of the most important people in my life are my childhood friends Erica and Addi, but it wasn’t until I was older that I realized the start of our friendship was mostly due to our collective difference from the other people of Laingsburg than our similarities to each other. Addi was adopted when she was in third grade, and Erica’s parents moved to Laingsburg from different areas of Lansing. The three of us were an unlikely trio of nomads without bloodlines rooting us to Laingsburg.
As dismaying as this fact was when I was in grade school and all the brownie points came from whose parents were related to whom, I could not be happier now for my detachment.

Laingsburg is a lovely little town, but with more emphasis on little. The people who live there have had parents who lived there, and grandparents who lived there, some all the way back to the town’s founding. And this fact makes me glad to have had the experiences I have had, and to have been able to experience different cultures in the urban and liberal environment of Ann Arbor.

My parent’s always told me to reserve my judgment, and I think the duality of my rural upbringing and metropolitan college experience is what really solidifies that for me. In both cases, you cannot judge people from different backgrounds. I don’t hate Laingsburg or the people within it. Yes I wish they could experience more of the world and be more informed about different cultures and styles of living, but I wish the same for many of the people I have met in liberal Ann Arbor. I wish they understood what it means to be from a small town, with the comfort of everyone knowing your name.

Each life style comes with it’s own pluses and minuses, but the point is: go and exist where you are comfortable and happy, and reserve your judgment from those who choose to live differently. I have legitimately been called a “Hick” in Ann Arbor, and a “City Girl” (not a good connotation) in Laingsburg. Living on both sides of the spectrum during formative years of my life makes it so crystal clear to me that your lifestyle is exactly that: YOURS. Be where you are happy and healthy and surrounded by people who support and love you. The people of Laingsburg are happy where they are. The people of Ann Arbor are happy where they are. My hope is that you are happy where you are too, and can respect the happiness of those in other places.

Other important thing about me: I’m really obsessed with corgis, here’s a gif of one wigglin it’s bunz 🙂

Hey its me, Emily.

Hi, I’m Emily Beaver. Yes my last name is an animal, yes it is kind of funny (at least to me). I have gotten more beaver related presents in my life than I could count, and my middle school gym teacher couldn’t tell my sisters and me apart so we all went by ‘The Beav’. I have completely accepted the last name as something that represents me, and my username in middle school for every platform of social media was beaverchick2. It doesn’t make too much sense, because I am the oldest and I don’t even like the number 2, but I thought that it flowed well so that’s just what it is.

Recently, I began to have a quarter-life crisis as I turned 21 on Tuesday (woo!) and realized that I really can be categorized as an adult now. Not that I consider myself an adult, but I am legally one. I looked at who I already was, and what I wanted to become. Mainly though, I wanted to continue to do things that made me smile and laugh. I never want to take life to seriously!

Currently:

  • I’m a Junior at studying Communications, Digital Studies, and Writing
  • I am from Westhampton Beach, NY
  • I have twin sisters who are 14 months younger than me (Irish triplets according to my mom)
  • My dog just got ACL surgery (yes that’s right, I said my dog)
  • I was the tallest kid in my elementary school (5’2) and now the shortest of my friends (5’2)
  • I have watched Grey’s Anatomy 2 times fully through, and plan on starting again soon
  • I spend much of my day worrying about summer internships

 

‘Adult Me’ wants to:

  • Keep watching Grey’s Anatomy until I memorize the words (jk… but I’ll watch again for sure)
  • Have brunch once a week
  • Dance around my kitchen
  • Work hard enough that I am proud of myself but not hard enough that I become focused on my career and not my personal life
  • Keep my college and high school friends in my life besides just liking each other’s Facebook posts
  • Eat cake for breakfast sometimes
  • Buy my dream car
  • Live in NYC

Basically, I have a lot of things I want to do when I am older but I want to continue to be the fun loving person I am now. We’ll see, I’ve only been 21 for 2 full days now.

There’s Dirt on my Floor

It’s three in the morning, my hand is bleeding, and there is dirt on my floor.  I’m in an oversized Rolling Stones t-shirt and large grey sweatpants, and in the time that I have typed these two sentences, blood has dripped down my hand and settled in the creases of my elbow and is now making its way to my sweatpants.  Are these sweatpants my ex-boyfriends or are they my brother’s?  It’s three in the morning, there’s dirt on my floor, my hand is bleeding, and my sweatpants shouldn’t matter, but I know they will be the subject of tonight’s all-consuming thought.

My hand is bleeding because I cut it on a can of Trader Joe’s non-fat refried beans.  It’s not a fact I’m particularly proud of, but it was a New Years resolution to be more honest, so here it is: my Wednesday night unpacked, refried beans included.

Some time during the initial stages of my writing process (staring at a blank computer) the can of refried beans had fallen off my bed and rolled underneath, and as I reached down to grab it, I cut my hand on the lid and brushed against an unsettling and unanticipated small pile of dirt.  And now there’s blood on my grey sweatpants.  Or his grey sweatpants.  I’d clean up the dirt really, I would, but it’s three in the morning, and this pile of dirt has clearly been under my bed for a while—why disturb it now?

There are so many things I wish I could vocalize, but since I’ve started writing those words have worked their way onto paper.  I know my insomnia makes writing at three a.m. a necessity and not an aberration, but why is tonight’s vice sweatpants of unknown origins?  Why will I spend hours tonight playing my thoughts on repeat, trying to remember if I’m wearing an article of clothing from a relationship I’d considered dead over a year ago? Why can’t I take a five second break to walk to the bathroom and grab a band aid?  Why is there dirt underneath my bed?  Is this introduction a little too honest, and is this train of thought too weird?  If people judge my writing will I still want to write?

I can’t explain most of the things in my bedroom and I won’t be able to justify who I am, but I’ve started to think about myself and my writing and it’s a good feeling.  Writing is where I make sense of things.  Writing is where I relieve myself of my worries.  I can’t vocalize how I feel when I write a sentence that has a pulsating feel and flows cohesively, but when I’m typing on my computer at three in the morning, nothing can stop me from writing, even a bleeding hand.

Me, according to me. And some other people.

I have a complicated relationship with introductions. I like to meet new people, and as a result I often find myself going through the motions of an introduction. I think it’s a great concept, a necessary one, but I also feel like it’s a bit misleading. People who meet me usually get to know a few things right away— things like my majors (International Studies and Anthropology (for now)), where I’m from (Farmington Hills, MI), what I’m involved with on campus (The Michigan Daily, mostly, and a few other much smaller time commitments). But those are much more things that I associate myself with than things that are actually about me, and I think you guys deserve something more substantive.

 

Of course, when I sat down to write something more substantive, I realized it’s actually pretty difficult to write about yourself. So I decided to do some crowd-sourcing. I asked a few friends and family members to tell me some distinctive traits about myself.

 

From my freshman-year roommate:

 

  1. “You like orange.”

This is very true. Orange is far and above my favorite color, and in middle school I had one of my bedroom walls painted orange (just one, because my parents were concerned about the bright color affecting my sleep habits— I’m still waiting to see the research). My current bedspread is orange. Sometimes I feel self-conscious about it in class, when I pull out my orange laptop and place it next to my orange water bottle, but at the end of the day I’m not going to stop buying orange things because I love the color unconditionally.

 

From my current roommate:

  1. “You have a hard time staying awake during movies.”

Ok, I’m really just a victim of genetics here. I grew up in a household where there was no enforced bedtime and still everyone was asleep before 10pm. We’re and early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of family, and even though I love watching movies and hanging out with my friends at night, I’m almost always the first one to fall asleep.

 

From my mom:

  1. “You live well in chaos (this is a nice way of saying you’re messy).”

Well, my mom is not WRONG (my former and current roommate both agreed with this one, funnily enough!) but if you ignore her translation, living well in chaos is a pretty good trait to have, right? Not a lot of things phase me, which definitely makes working as a news reporter easier. This is also probably a relevant place to mention something else important about myself: when I was 13, my family decided to go on a trip around the world. We traveled to 15 countries and my mom homeschooled my sisters and I for the year— it was definitely a year of chaos and it shaped a lot of who I am today (and, coincidentally, was my first experience with blogging).

 

So that’s me, I suppose. Me according to me, and also some other people.

Intro: Controlled Chaos

I’ve had people tell me for years that I should consider blogging because I guess I have pretty obscure thoughts, a passion for ranting, and a mind full of keen insights on a wide range of topics. I always thought I would eventually take on blogging as a hobby when I unleashed my bubbling desire to express the more chaotic side of my mind to the public, whenever that would be. I never expected even a few months ago that I would be creating an e-portfolio, let alone blogging for a class assignment. And now I’ve been thrown into this situation of controlling your perception of me. Isn’t that what a blog is, really? You know nothing about me really and haven’t seen me outside the classroom or maybe on campus, and now I get the chance to say anything I can think of, while having a generous amount of time to contemplate how every word I write will influence your ideas about me. In reality there isn’t so much time to play a mental game of chess while I talk to people, but in this setting I’m in control. Oh, I guess that’s how writing a book is to from an author’s perspective. Well damn, there basically was no point in trying to up my level of wit to write this blog. Now I have to find a new direction to go with this. Hmm. I guess the easiest way to explain myself is with my personal slogan that guides my personality and my decisions:

“Controlled Chaos.”

Don’t be scared, I literally just came up with that on the spot. I mean, I know that is how I would describe myself but I just didn’t coin a cool name for it UNTIL NOW. Wow, blogging is really helping me organize my thoughts, even if it seems like to you that I’m all over the place with this. What that phrase refers to is my inclination to make random decisions and say and do spontaneous things, while also being hyper-aware about the impact my decisions and words have on me and those around me. I’m essentially a fine balance between extremely calculated and “WHAT THE HELL,” if such a balance exists. For example, if you were wondering why I applied to the writing minor, well so am I!

Before you get offended and curse me out for taking this spot from someone who was dying to be apart of this program, hear my story. Basically, I drank too much coffee one night in September and, in my caffinated state, thought it would be funny to do something spontaneous, like start another minor in something I never expected myself doing. Because making random decisions about my education and my future is somehow funny to me. That probably doesn’t help my case at all. In fact, I might sound reckless. However, even though my decision to apply was spontaneous and took 1 second to make, my decision to accept was very calculated. My other guiding mantra is “Be Everything.” I do not confine myself to stereotypes or a rigid sense of self. I don’t tell myself that I am not a numbers person or that I am not a “liberal arts kinda guy,” or that I am just naturally better at somethings and bad at somethings. I want to be every type of person in order to expose myself to the entire world and the diverse knowledge it holds rather than just limiting myself by assigning myself a label. I HATE LABELS. That’s why I accepted the Minor in Writing program. I can now proudly say that I am an Economics Major, with a Statistics AND Writing minor. I’m truly pursuing a complete education that almost taps into every area of academia. I’ve always known that I wanted to end up on Wall Street because I believe succeeding in finance requires an understanding of so many fields of work and aspects of society that its basically suited for the Renaissance Man (which I strive to be). I actually don’t even care about money, ironically. I just love the process of interdisciplinary thinking that it takes to make the money, which isn’t all that bad I guess. I have to think about the technical finances, social trends, political factors, psychology, science, and history in order to be good at my passion for investing. By adding the writing minor, I can truly challenge the stereotype that people that like finance scoff at the value of liberal arts degrees and the importance of artistic expression. And I can challenge the stereotype that liberal arts degrees are useless in modern times and have no concrete value in society. Well now that I’m done with the calculated part of this blog, I guess I can just do chaotic and messy lists all over for fun.

Things I can talk Endlessly About

Sports -> I basically follow every single sport and have played a bunch of organized sports. I am so obsessed with making sure that I am up-to-date with every sports league that I’m basically a sports and statistics encyclopedia.

Favorite Teams -> LA Lakers, Indianapolis Colts (don’t bother asking why), NY Yankees, FC Barcelona, NJ Devils, and obviously Michigan

Sports I’ve Played on an actual team -> Basketball, Baseball, Volleyball (for Michigan too), Frisbee.

 

TV Shows

  • House of Cards
  • LOST
  • Game of Thrones
  • Dexter
  • Black Mirrors
  • The Walking Dead
  • House
  • The Crown
  • Sherlock
  • Master of None (Rip Aziz’s Career)
  • The Office
  • Parks and Rec
  • Friends
  • Stranger Things
  • Narcos
  • Breaking Bad
  • American Vandal
  • Daredevil
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
  • Bojack Horseman

Damn I have no life

 

MUSIC (the one area I have no diversity in because I can only stand Rap and R&B)

TOP 10 HIP HOP/R&B Artists of this Generation (always changing)

  1. Kanye West
  2. Drake
  3. Kendrick Lamar
  4. Travis Scott
  5. J Cole
  6. ASAP Rocky
  7. The Weeknd
  8. Migos
  9. Frank Ocean
  10. Lil Uzi Vert

Albums currently guiding my life

  • HUNCO JACK, JACK HUNCO – Travis Scott, Quavo
  • Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight – Travis Scott
  • LUV IS RAGE 2, – Lil Uzi Vert
  • SATURATION III – BROCKHAMPTON
  • Enter the 36 Chambers – Wu-Tang Clan
  • Cozy Tapes Vol. II – A$AP Mob
  • Trilogy – The Weeknd
  • More Life – Drake
  • Nothing Was the Same – Drake
  • Say Less – Roy Woods
  • War & Leisure – Miguel
  • Double Or Nothing – Big Sean, Metro Booming
  • NO ONE EVER REALLY DIES – N.E.R.D
  • Pressure – Jeezy
  • El Gato: The Human Ice Glacier – Gucci Mane
  • DAMN – Kendrick Lamar

 

Politics and Economics

  • There’s no list, unfortunately, but I had a great time making lists for some reason.
  • Anything political or related to markets is interesting to me

 

Basic Information

  • Hometown: Edison, New Jersey
  • Height: 5’8 on cloudy days, 6’2 on sunny days
  • Family: Mom, Dad, Two Sisters (31 and 35), and a Parrot that is now bilingual

 

Introduction: Who am I?

My name is Caitlyn. My mom once told me that if I were a boy, she would have named me Christian. I’m not named after anyone in particular, my mom just likes names that end with ‘n’. Hence, my older sister’s name is Allyson. Then there’s my last name, Zawideh, which puts me at the end of every alphabetical list I’ve ever been on. I was always last to take my yearbook photo in school. Alphabetically assigned seats always put me in the back of the room. My locker was always at the very end of the hallway. I don’t mind being at the end of the alphabet so much now. Yearbook photos and locker placement are no longer things I need to worry about.

Once, I asked my dad what our last name means. He told me he couldn’t remember exactly, but it might mean “great” or “great ones,” something like that.

We called his mom to ask, and she replied, “Great, good, some of us are okay.”

Names are always the first thing we think to give in an introduction, and they are important insofar that people know how to address you, but other than that, they say nothing about who you are as a person. When we are asked to give an introduction, we are answering the question “Who am I?” If given enough time, this question can easily become an existential one. Instead of dwelling on the existential, here are some icebreaker-eque fun facts:

  • I’m a Sophomore studying Computer Science
  • I transferred here last semester from Michigan State
  • My favorite movie is Baby Driver 
  • Once, a Buzzfeed quiz told me if I were a character on Friends I would be Rachel.
  • Buzzfeed should know that I’m a Chandler.
  • If I found a genie in a bottle that would grant me three wishes, my first wish would definitely be to write better introductions.