understanding the process

At 2:33 am tonight, I had an epiphany whilst picking dried Elmer’s glue off my fingers. I finally understood the process.

I’m sitting looking down at my remediated assignment.

The initial idea was to take my repurposed essay and turn the concept into a magazine collage. Middle school was my collage-making peak and I missed the feeling of cutting ‘n’ pasting, forming new contexts around images, from snapshots that used to mean something else.

I entered my night of art with a few boxes and arrows, an outline of sorts of what I imagined for my large poster collage. As I flipped through the latest issues of GlamourWomen’s HealthCosmo, Lilith, and The New Yorker (my roommates’ interest spread as wide as the sea), I snapped out this photo, that string of words. I’d cut something out that I wasn’t sure would fit what I had in mind but that seemed somehow . . . right. I had a sense of trust in whatever was taking over me.

Next step was to dive in to the placement of images and words. After a period of shifting things around, I started to see what was forming, and it seemed like it was almost beyond my control. I didn’t think that what I had before me was what I had envisioned, yet it was working. Then I’d have a blank spot that needed to be filled and to remedy this I’d flip through a few pages of the closest publication. Aha, the words ‘where integrity is’ and those speech bubbles. Now this could be cool, I thought.

This felt similar to writing but stranger. As with a writing assignment, it helps to have an outline, to have a clear map of where you’re going. I know it makes for smoother writing, and with less hurdles to jump over in the middle. But that usually isn’t how I’ll approach an essay. Whether it’s for lack of time or trying, I don’t usually go at it with an outline. Writing for me is often about a word, phrase, thought, or experience that will inspire me– as happened tonight. I thought, this is something I need to write about, something I want to remember. So I jotted a few notes down on one of those inserts inside Glamour asking for a renewed subscription and rushed home before I lost the inspiration.

I realized though that with anything you need a backbone to stick with no matter what seemingly genius idea hits you. It may seem good to run with at the time, but any solid piece of writing, art, or music needs a foundation of integrity. I appreciated the process of creating tonight. Maybe I’m a visual learner, all I know is the process was clearer to me than with an essay. The proof laid right before my eyes.

a typical high school paper…

Here’s the introduction and first paragraph of a paper I wrote about Beowulf, back in senior year of high school. Oh, senior year. I didn’t enjoy the poem much, and I think it shows in the lack of effort I put into this paper. I still struggle with the opening sentences essays and papers- here, I jumped into the main idea too quickly. The flow of the ideas are a bit clunky. And I tend to repeat the same idea with different words to sound smarter. Though . . . who didn’t do that in high school?

circa the winter of 2010:

Movie adaptations are always tricky. The question is whether to stick to the original book or poem or to deviate. When comparing the movie version of Beowulf to the original poem, it is clear that the movie takes steps away from the poem. While some changes violate the spirit of the poem by departing from it dramatically, others remain true to the original text, as they are not contradictory.

One transgression that the movie takes from the poem is concerning the portrayal of Hrothgar. In the poem, Hrothgar is respected and exalted as a king. The unknown poet writes: “Then Hrothgar, taking the throne, led/The Danes to such glory that comrades and kinsmen/Swore by his sword, and young men swelled/His armies, and he thought of greatness” (unknown ln 64-67). He is a great leader of the Danes, his people admire him, and they take pride in their king. By contrast, in the movie, Hrothgar is portrayed as a drunkard. In the movie’s first scene, the king is intoxicated and thus is acting foolishly to the point of embarrassment. Other times, he is unwanted by his wife and takes to mistresses. In the poem, Hrothgar is only shown as loyal and honorable in this respect. Furthermore, there is no reason that the movie needed to depict Hrothgar in this way, in such contrast to the original player. It does not add anything to the movie. If anything, showing the king as this licentious character detracts from the main elements of the poem, and it is not justifiable when referring back to the poem.

indentations in the soul

In the flurry of midterms and general stress, I seldom set aside time to appreciate writing that isn’t within the confines of coursework. Two and a half years into this college thing and the work/life balance has yet to ascend into my reality.

That’s what I spent Spring Break doing–partaking in activities I’ve always inherently enjoyed. Amidst a week of movie-watching, local adventuring, and midday naps, I came across a piece of writing that hit me in all the right places.

‘Beginning, End’ by Jessica Soffer is a story of carefully fabricated phrases stitched to create an intricate web of moments and memories of two people and the lives they lead, together and apart.

While reading, I stepped away from my existence and my worries to be propelled into a world of “We feared the wind . . . We had to wonder.” And thinking about what those words meant to the author, what they might mean to me.

I was touched by Soffer’s ability to translate intense images of love and loss within a mere eight paragraphs. That’s when I realized that it is no matter the length of a story, essay, or article, when its content and message are strong enough to leave indentations in the soul of the reader.

When’s the last time you read something that made you pause to contemplate something bigger than yourself? That made you think beyond the here and now?

How to survive the “bubble”

From initial research, to call the present college situation a “higher education bubble” may seem an overstatement. There are issues of students taking out loans to pay for overpriced schools, and that their degrees won’t turn into jobs that will help them pay back said loans. That’s easy enough to understand. An article by Andrianes Pinantoan, published on the America’s Future Foundation’s website, details ways that students can combat this fear. That’s why this article spoke to me- by evaluating the claims of major news outlets and being optimistic.

Going to a profitable school, picking a major with an “eye toward the future”, always research scholarships and working during college are all feasible ideas for most. They all depend on one’s situation. But in the end, college is an investment toward what is supposed to be a promising future. It’s not a time to … not plan.

In the end, as Pinantoan writes, “In conclusion, the college bubble is largely a myth; instead, it’s a reflection of fears about the high rates of student defaults. Comparisons to student loans to sub-prime mortgages, however, are faulty: the value of knowledge gained in college does not depreciate the way a house does.” This is what I’ve been thinking. Those who go through 4+ years at college without learning anything of importance are wasting their time and money. But many of us, myself hopefully included, will be able to avoid the bubble.

About alakritz

Hey, Atara here. In case you’re wondering, my name means crown in Hebrew. I’m 20 years old, and after a lot of “trying to figure it all out,” I’m enjoying studying Global Environment and Health. Though my hometown of West Bloomfield is only 45 minutes from Ann Arbor, the differences couldn’t be starker. Ann Arbor has been a place of new experiences for me, and I’m always trying to step out of my comfort zone. That started when I took a gap year before coming to U of M- I studied abroad in Israel for a year.

Passions include being a better recycler, reading, zumba, watching all the movies I know I should have seen already but haven’t yet, traveling, copy-editing and discovering new passions.


I need a dictionary.

I’m not one to spend my free time perusing the finance section. This article particularly puzzles me:


“Icahn Urges Transocean to Issue Big Dividend”- Even when I define all of the previously unknown words, this is a field I’ve never been able to comprehend. I’ve learned a bit about Swiss shareholding laws, in case that ever comes in handy.

An unreliable tone

It was difficult to find an untrustworthy piece of writing, without focusing on dissecting the claims or facts made. I searched through the Michigan Daily ‘Letters to the Editor’ and found one that I found hard to stand by.


‘Letter to the Editor: Pro-life is pro-freedom’ by Michael Puskar isn’t trustworthy. Puskar is trying to argue for pro-life camp, but his claims aren’t strong. For example, “Pro-life is pro-freedom” is such a blanket statement that doesn’t hold much meaning. I’ve heard much better arguments for being anti-abortion.