“Let’s Google It”

The “rabbit hole” is not really a new concept to me – although I never realized what I was doing had a name (besides “curiosity” or “procrastination”). I guess I’m a pretty curious person, and my Google search history would corroborate that statement. Without even realizing I’m doing it, I find myself Googling dozens of questions and random thoughts every day. In a conversation, if someone happens to say, “I wonder how many Golden Globes Meryl Streep has won,” I am 101% likely to immediately grab my phone and search for the answer. Why just ponder over these questions when we can find out the answer, increase our knowledge, and destroy our friends in Trivia Crack?

When starting today’s “rabbit hole”, I chose the Health Sciences category. I figured I could find something that was new and interesting to me, since my studies are generally pretty different from the health sciences. This seemed like a better place to start than say, a category that fits with my major and would include information I already know a lot about.

From there I ended up at Pharmacology. An interesting topic, of course, but not my forte at all and something I know little to none about. I ended up in Drug Discovery, reading an article about how the rave drug Special K can positively treat depression, bipolar disorder and suicidal behavior. Aaaand, then I backed up and started fresh.

My next clicks led me to Government, Politics & Law, and then to the European Union. Why not? I’m graduating this year, obviously euro-trip is on my mind. I read an article about Europe’s jobless youth, didn’t find much else that interested me, and backed up again.

Nothing I found was really driving my interests for the project, but it satisfied my constant need to Google random things.

Words of Advice to Future Writing Minors

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When it comes to your projects, choose a piece you love. You’ll be spending a lot of time with it.

Don’t pick the paper that you got the best grade on, in fact, pick one you didn’t do so great on. Use this as a chance to improve it — to show that you have the skills as a writer to turn it into something amazing. But most importantly, make sure it means something to you. You’ll spend the whole semester thinking about it, writing about it, transforming it. If you take something personal to you and expand it into your repurposing and remediating projects — you’ll love the outcome. You’ll enjoy the class this way, instead of dreading every assignment. You’ll want to share it with the class, because it means something to you. You chose this minor because you love to write, so don’t let a boring topic ruin that for you. Be excited to participate every day.

 

Oh, and bring in food to share with your class. Everyone loves food.

You should of paid attention in English class

Oh, please...
Oh, please…

I will admit, I am guilty of the occasional grammatical error. These are my confessions: I tend to get really “comma-happy”, as my high school English teacher put it, when writing. I sometimes mess up “its” and “it’s” until Microsoft Word corrects it for me. And I won’t even deny that I still have to google when to use “whom” instead of “who.” I’m especially self-conscious right now that I’ll make a mistake of my own while I sit here and complain about the grammatical offenses of others that drive me nuts, but here it goes.

I think I start growing a few grey hairs whenever I see someone write “should of”, “could of”, etc. WHAT?! The contraction is “should’ve”, how could you even get “of” out of that? It is clearly should HAVE. “Of” isn’t a verb people! You can’t “of” something!

Now, this isn’t a common mistake that bothers me but a grammar “rule” we are supposed to abide by. Why the heck are you not allowed to end a sentence with preposition? Can we all just agree to ignore that? (Okay, we pretty much all already do.) Let’s be honest though, “To whom are you talking?” instead of “Who are you talking to?”? No one talks like that and you’d probably give someone a funny look if they did, because they’ll sound pretty pretentious. (Note: while proofreading I discovered the first sentence of this paragraph ends in a preposition. Oops. See my point?)

Ready? Unpopular opinion time. I hate the Oxford comma and I’m glad it’s optional — because I opt out! I just don’t like it how it looks and that’s really my only reasoning. The word “and” is enough for you to know that the series is coming to a close…that extra comma just seems so unnecessary. Now before you try to defend the importance of the comma in instances like the photo above, I know there is no way that by reading that sentence you actually imagined the second representation. Come on, we can use our own knowledge and context to know that there’s no way that’s what the sentence meant.

As for a component of grammar that I do like, I must say I appreciate the British spellings of some words. This might not be “grammar” exactly, but I kind of like the way they spell “colour” or “theatre.” (Now I’m laughing as this website is giving those two words the red underline! Silly American program…) However, I don’t actually ever use those spellings in my own writings — that’d probably make me a poser, right? — but my love of the Brits leaves me fond of these subtle lexical differences.

Lastly, my all-time favorite punctuation mark — the interrobang. AKA “?!” Using both a question mark and exclamation point displays a totally unique range of emotions that either mark alone could not otherwise convey. And let’s be honest, how cool does the word “interrobang” sound?

Repurposing: An Emotional Experience

For my Project II, I am re-purposing a personal narrative on scoliosis into a health magazine article on the importance of checking for the disorder early on, particularly in young girls. Obviously this subject is close to my heart and I am already pretty knowledgeable about it. During my research, I found sources to use to validate what I basically already knew due to going through the entire experience myself. However, I did learn some new things particularly from the statistics I found. I knew that it was very common, more so in girls, and that a lot of people have a very mild form – but through research I was able to find more specific estimates of these demographics.

Writing an article to parents telling them how important it is to evaluate their children at a young age started making me a little emotional. It took me back in time to being 13 years old and having a doctor tell me everything I was writing about. It also reminded me of how emotional it made my parents, and I wanted to use that to reassure parents in my piece that the outlook can be very positive.

Actual X-rays of my spine. Before (left) and after surgery (right).
Actual X-rays of my spine. Before (left) and after surgery (right).

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead

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As a procrastinator and someone who is easily bored, I prefer to be busy. I don’t usually like to have too much free time to sit around, although I can appreciate the occasional free day with nothing to do but lay in bed and watch Netflix. But I get bored with too much free time and I like to be around people. I like having commitments, responsibilities, events, appointments. I have found that in my past couple of semesters I’ve had far too much time to just sit around. This only leads me to procrastinate on schoolwork more because I think, “Oh, I have TONS of time to get that done!” and in reality, I do. But I’ll still wait until the last minute.

So this semester I decided it was time to get more involved. Along with my four classes, I work two days a week at Insomnia Cookies, working into the wee hours of the night. Shifts that don’t end until 3am and classes that start at 9am adds another task into my routine – naps. I can hardly make it through the day without one. Then, add in two hours per week of volunteering at the Humane Society, and two days a week of a workout club I joined. Sprinkle in some basketball season tickets here and there and you’ve got a pretty full schedule. I will always make time to go out with my friends on weekends, so chalk up that as another part of my weekly schedule. All of this basically leads to: when I have an assignment, I have to get it done ASAP.

Sometimes a busy schedule gets stressful when you just feel like there is too much to do and not nearly enough hours of the day, but running around doing errands, attending meetings and doing work honestly just makes me feel like a more productive person, and I really value that. I even thought about joining another club but I might have to hold off on that for now… And then comes summertime when I enroll in summer classes and also take on a second job… I guess I can sleep when I’m dead.

Nine Beginnings

I related to Margaret Atwood’s piece “Nine Beginnings” because she can’t find the right answer to the ever-pressing question “why do you write?” This resonated with me because I went through similar struggles while writing my own response to this question. Atwood says, “I hate writing about my writing” and I see where she is coming from. How does one explain their passions? Is there ever a succinct answer to why we do what we do? Sometimes we are just compelled to act in certain ways and there’s no clear reason. That is why I structured my paper as multiple reasons why I write, because there is no single answer.

I also agreed with her when she said, “Writing about writing requires self-consciousness, writing itself requires the abdication of it.” I feel like when you are writing you tend to “lose yourself” in it and become absorbed in your work. It is definitely a subconscious process because most often you are not intently thinking about what you are doing and why, it just happens.

Atwood also talks about how discussing writing can come across as “too falsely wise.” I had this experience when we were told to write “bold proclamations of writers.” It felt like anything I came up with sounded too pretentious, too finite. We were told to be bold but I think one of the beautiful things about writers is that they do not all fit into such clear-cut categories. It’s a broad field that anyone can break into, not a secret society for the elite.

Lastly, I appreciated her comments about writing being an “apprentice system.” Alive or dead, we all find mentors who teach us how to write and guide us through the process. We find writers that we admire and attempt to mimic their style or at least learn something from them to better our own craft. Even just by reading this short piece by Atwood, I learned something from her about how to write.

Well, at least 400 people on Twitter care what I write about…

Ally Malone is a full-time student at the University of Michigan and part-time cookie slave. Her biggest achievements in writing thus far include: having a poem she wrote about a penny displayed in her local library when she was in elementary school and a twitter account that boasts upwards of 19,000 tweets. While great triumphs like these may be hard to top, she is optimistic that her writing will soar to new heights. She currently resides in Ann Arbor, Michigan in a house with eleven other girls. Yes, you read that right, eleven.