Humans of Health Care Policy

We live in an incredibly politicized society, but one that does not understand politics. Health care reform through the Affordable Care Act has grown into an abstraction emblematic of this. But there are real consequences. A parent who cannot afford to pay for the prescriptions to ease the pain of their ailing child. A woman who cannot get the help she needs because nearest clinic that handles women’s health is being defunded. But also the person who, try as they may, cannot cobble enough together to match their rising premium. Or the person who cannot continue visiting their trusted doctor, one with whom they share their most personal health details, because they are not longer included under their new coverage. To understand health care reform is not to get lost in policy minutiae. It is to be illustrated through these real stories of real people. As we approach a tipping point, this is more relevant than ever.

The end.

For maybe the first time ever, I’m sad to leave a class. I really am. Usually, my feelings about leaving a class are a little something like this:

But this class was different. I thought when I started the Minor in Writing program that I basically knew everything there was to know about writing because I was pretty good at writing essays and super naive. When we started this class, I quickly realized that I really didn’t know everything about writing. In fact, I knew very little. But that was ok, because this class taught me so much. Not the type of stuff that I would memorize for a week in the library and then forget by the middle of next week. Instead, I learned some real stuff. I learned about the importance of models, drafts, and how to take being criticized without being a grouch. This stuff was all truly life-changing as a writer. I really believe that I will carry this throughout the rest of college, and probably even through life. That’s not common for someone who just now is halfway done with college. But, again, this class was different.

Here’s the link to my eportfolio:

Hope you get as much a kick out of it as I did.

Re-Purposing in the Home Stretch

Being almost done is a very strange feeling. You’re almost there, but there’s still a lot to be done. I had a similar feeling on my 9 hour drive from New Jersey to Michigan last week, probably around the 6 or 7 hour mark. Everyone else in the car was asleep, and I was on the third play of my “Bruce Springsteen: Greatest Hits” CD (it was the most New Jersey-ian car ride I have ever taken part in, and it was amazing), so I was tired. I knew the end was close, but I knew the last push would take a lot of energy and I just didn’t have much left. Taking a step back from my re-purposing project last week gave me the energy I needed to edit, add, cut, and generally make my re-purposing project better. Along with some solid suggestions from Shelley, I can safely say that I feel like I’m almost done with the re-purposing project. I think it is coming together nicely as both an informative piece but one that is rife with my own commentary, and that has a lot of instances where I am able to use the genre conventions of a blog post to my advantage. The last step I think is making my audience a bit clearer, and making it more discerned in the piece so that someone from the intended audience would be sure that this is a piece for then. When it’s finally finished, I’ll be able to say in the immortal words of Bruce, “hey, what else can we do now?”

Repurposing Assignment Update

So far I’m about halfway done with my repurposing project (I think), which means I’ve watched, paused, re-winded and fast-forwarded through half of the 2013 Grammy Awards show (no small feat, because the torrented link I’ve been using looks like it’s about to give my computer a virus every 2 minutes). I think it’s flowing well so far, and I have collected a solid amount of pictures, links, videos, and GIFs to include in the project. I really think this has added to the project and made it much more visual, which is a definite plus in communicating my points. I started using a Microsoft Word document, but realized quickly that wasn’t going to cut it for my genre needs. I’ve tentatively decided to use Weebly, a free blog site, although its interface isn’t the easiest to navigate (if you have any suggestions for me feel free to clue me in). What I’m struggling with the most right now is that I feel like my project is not necessarily making an argument right now, but rather is just a collection of organized thoughts. As I continue to watch and analyze, my goal is to work on making more of a concrete argument. Has anyone else had a similar problem? If so, let me know. Also, I’m not sure if it’s necessarily funny to people that aren’t me right now, but I guess we won’t know that until someone else reads it. Until then, enjoy this GIF of Beyoncé (you might have to click it to get it to work).


30 Minutes of Writing

Since we were looking to see how many different kinds of writing we can find in 30 minutes, I decided to keep a running log of what I found: 

-11:02 am: I figure this is as good a time as any to start this blog assignment. I log on to, and greeted by a picture of Steve Buscemi’s face. Absolutely terrifying. No longer sure if this blog assignment is worth it. 

-11:03 am: Power through my initial set back, find a post “CBS Week Viewing Diary, Day 4: Watching ‘Criminal Minds,’ ‘Stalker,’ and ‘The Mentalist’ at the Same Time, Like a Crazy Person,” from one of my favorite writers Rembert Browne. (This was written in a narrative style, which featured a pretty informal tone, first person voice, and use of links/pictures/GIFs to give the reader more evidence of what they were saying, very similar to a blog)
-11:05 am: Scroll to the bottom of the page and find “The Week in Gossip: Jay and Bey’s Move to L.A., Kanye and Kim’s Double Date, and Johnny and Amber’s Secret Wedding” in the related links. Big win. (This was somewhat of a news genre, although the subject wasn’t particularly important/newsworthy. But it did link to a lot of news articles and generally tried to back up its claims. Very little modal aspects other than just the text)
-11:08 am: Linked within the article is a podcast featuring Grassland senior writer Andy Greenwald (he’s cool) and Nick Kroll (no idea who that is). (The podcast used aural mode basically the whole time, since it was just a recording of their talking. But there was definitely some writing in that many of the questions were scripted and there was a written intro)
-11:09 am: I’m getting a little Grantland-ed out, and don’t know how much more random clicking I can do. Luckily I get saved by my phone showing me a CNN alert about the Jordan-ISIS conflict. I just became the first person saved by ISIS. (This is definitely news writing, although the CNN site also incorporated strong visual mode in that there was easy to navigate layout and a lot of prominent color)
-11:14 am: I find a link to a story about Brian Williams and his apparently made-up story about having his helicopter shot down in Iraq. I like Brian Williams. So sad 🙁 (More news genre, more of the same stuff)
-11:16 am: I get distracted by a text message. I’m sorry.
-11:19 am: After my short break, I decide to switch things up and scroll through Twitter for some inspiration. I find a story written by someone at the Michigan Daily, “University professors talk U.S., Cuban diplomatic relationship,” with a picture of one of my old professors looking important. That was pretty cool. (This news story utilized less of the visual mode with basically just straight black and white text, although the picture actually lent itself to good use of the gestural mode for a still, since her pointed-pose was powerful)
-11:21 am: Back to Twitter, and one of my friends posted a Buzzfeed quiz “Are You The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air?” I can’t not take it, right? (This counts as writing! Their intended audience is probably college-aged kids, and they succeeded in lopping me into their site)
-11:22 am: I am not. I am Carlton. Ugh. 
-11:23 am: At the bottom of the page I find a link to a Jimmy Fallon video-remake of the original “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” theme song. Man, people are talented. (This was all strong writing, since it took the theme song and incorporated numerous aspects of visual, aural, and spatial modes. Also the intended audience was probably young people/any who has seen “Fresh Prince”/anyone who likes funny things.)
-11:25 am: I got an email from the Pew Research Center in their Journalism project, so I read that for a while. (This was geared more towards researchers or professionals/academics, but their graphics were definitely big on the visual mode. And the writing was very professional and academic-styled, so that lent it to more that genre). 
So, in short, 9 different pieces of writing, 6 different genres covered, and 1 terribly inefficient person trying to capture it all. 

Purposing Re-purposing

Admittedly, I had no idea what I was going to do for the re-purposing project at 9:33 AM on Thursday before class. I figured that was as good a time as any to start, though. I opened up my Google Drive and poured through old documents, some written as recently as last week, others from 2008 (physically painful for me to read). However, I was able to stumble upon an old Grammy’s preview article I had written, which included just a bit about how it was a travesty that Mumford & Son’s Babel was a lock to win over Frank Ocean’s R&B masterpiece Channel Orange, and the greater biases this revealed as existing music industry. From there, Max and I were able to run with a couple of ideas. We discussed possibly writing an analytical piece about white favoritism in awards (particularly music), and then moved onto whether Macklemore was more of an outlier or a trend-setter. Each of these came from more “creatively” written (sorry Shelley) pieces, but he proposed focusing them into a more analytical and “academic” framework. It will take a while for me to feel comfortable soliciting advice in this way, but has opened up the door for the future, and at the very least provided me a foundation for the re-purposing assignment. I think for now I’m going to be writing a research paper on the perceived bias in the Grammy awards, which is cool because I get to study music and pop culture, and music and pop culture are cool.

Why Other I Write According to Other People

If you walked into my bedroom, you might think I’m a really vain and arrogant person. I hope that you wouldn’t, but there’s a chance. I have saved a copy of The Michigan Daily for each one that I worked on, and hung them up around the room. It’s reminiscent of a mother who hangs up her young kid’s drawings (hopefully they look better than the terrible children family portraits with every member of the family drawn with orange crayon, though) on the family refrigerator.

Ever since we read Orwell’s “Why I Write,” I keep coming back to his four main points about he writes (duh) when I’m looking at these hung up Daily issues. Is there a political purpose in these pompous posters of self-accomplishment? Not really. An aesthetic enthusiasm? If they’re done well, I guess. Sheer egoism? Absolutely. But that’s the point.

When I turn on the TV, it’s mostly reserved for people who have such tremendous achievements. Oh, the Golden Globes are on? Here’s some of the world’s most beautiful people lauding other beautiful people for making beautiful art. Oh, the NFL playoffs are on? Here’s a bunch of Goliaths who are pushing the human physique to unimaginable points.

Am I skilled in any way that is even close to comparable with these people? Absolutely not (unless we’re counting “Who can watch the most episodes of The Office today,” in which case I’m at least competitive). But I am really proud of my writing. Orwell said it was because of sheer egoism, and he’s so right. Writing for me has become my way, no matter how relatively insignificant, of showing that there is something that I can do well. And if hanging up the symbols of that makes me a vain person, then I’m damn proud of it.

What I Love About Shea



Sometimes you just know what certain people are supposed to be doing in life. Judging a book by its cover is totally acceptable in these cases. When you see a beautiful woman with deep blue eyes, you think “Wow, she should probably be a model.” When you see a large man with arms like legs and legs like tree trunks, you think “Wow, he should probably be a football player.” When you see me, you think “Wow, he should probably be figuring out what he wants to do with his life.”

There’s a man whose name is Shea Serrano. I’ve never met him, but I’ve seen a couple of pictures of him. He’s relatively unassuming looking; a short man of Hispanic descent with a tapered buzzcut and modest goatee. You wouldn’t be able to guess what he does simply looking at him. But he’s one of those people who you just know what he’s supposed to be doing in life–he’s supposed to be a writer. He writes for Grantland, a sports and pop culture blog, and I read everything he writes. Like, everything. Always.

Here’s a snippet from something he wrote once:

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 11.37.55 AM

He wrote about going to the park and the supermarket in a larger article about going to a child’s birthday party. And I laughed throughout the entire thing. Again, the topics were: park, supermarket, and children’s skating rink. I’ve never told a story as interesting as his 1,324 word article, and those were the topics. Either I’m really boring (I hope not) or he’s really good at what he does.

I like biographies. I like historical narratives. But I love to read slice-of-life writings like these the best. I love to read something about a mundane activity I do every day and can still make me laugh. I love when people can write something that so perfectly captures what even my average life is like. And I love what Shea Serrano writes the best of all.