Attempted Intro and Research Synthesis– I’ve got a ways to go…

How eye-opening. Trying to write an introduction after what seems like barely any research or interviews was painful. It felt wrong and maybe a little selfish, but I don’t think it was totally horrible.

The inspiration from my project stemmed from the “Why I Write” piece in the Minor’s Gateway course. I wanted to include it, or at least some of my ideas from that paper, into the introduction.

Here are some of the questions that I’m struggling with when it comes to getting started and including myself in this series of stories about small town people transitioning to big schools:

  • Is it selfish to include myself in my series of narratives?
  • Should I let my readers know that its me?
  • Should my “Why I Write” be my introduction or my story at the end?
  • In the introduction, should I introduce what will happen throughout the series of stories (e.g. You’ve heard my story, now hear the stories of others students who have…etc.) or just let them figure it out?
  • I’m planning on including photos into my narratives. Should I place them throughout the stories or give them a separate space to tell their own stories?
  • Should I include a more academic portion in the beginning (rather than a narrative portion) to set readers up about the disparities of SES and low-income families at big universities?

Okay, sorry. Lots of questions I guess. I have some time to think about it, but I really need to get my interviews all set up for the week or two weeks after spring break. There is still so much research to do. I’m dying to get in contact with someone from the Comprehensive Studies Program (CSP) to be my consultant, mentor, person, etc. But I recently heard about a program called Wolverine Pathways that helps kids from low-achieving towns get accepted to colleges. Unfortunatley, I’m not sure that this program completely correlates

Other than mentorship and interviews, I really need to look more into the intersectionality between SES and small towns. Because, let’s take a good look around Ypsilanti and Detroit, big schools or neighborhoods are not directly correlated to big income. I’ll be so interested to see how the two of these things intersect, and how they play into (or don’t play into) the transitions of my interviewees.

Something that is always so prevelant in my mind is how much money students spend here. Whether it’s on food or drinks or clothing or the amount of Ubers they take, students here have money. Coming from a family with far less than an investment banker’s or doctor’s income, I know that my class has affected the way that I interact with other students. I’m interested to see studies surrounding this, but also if this has played a role in the lives of other small town students during their time at Michigan.

Over spring break, I’m hoping to read another book by Chuck Klosterman (one of my two patronuses (??)); his work heavily revolves around abstract narratives and adopting the voice of a certain time, place, and culture. This will be huge for me during my project, as I’m aiming to take the voice of those that I’m interviewing.

Okay, off to do a disgusting amount of laundry and pack every bottle of sunscreen I own into a backpack! Enjoy spring break everybody.

Blog Roundtable 2: Draft Development Mini-Assignment

Prompt #7: Narrative Perspective and Voice

In about 200 words, narrate an important moment from the past: narrate it as if you are the age you were then, in the moment, and in present tense. Try to capture the diction and the rhythms of language of your younger self. 2) Then take another 200 words and reflect on the experience from the age you are now, using all the powers of language you possess to make sense of that experience. After trying this, what do you notice about the difference in voice between these two paragraphs? Imagine them sequentially–do they work together?

1) “I hate this job. And next summer, my internship with be 100x better than this. I’m making myself that promise right now,” I think, making barely audible mumbling at my tiny, dusty desk at Camp Shane. I type away, making blogs, social media posts, and chipping away at the take home manual.

I’m kind of sweaty, even though I haven’t moved much since breakfast. I can’t begin to imagine what the campers are going through right now. From Zumba class to soccer to dance to spin, I see them huffing and puffing across the dead grass each hour. Every once in a while, I get to follow them, snapping pictures for our Instagram page, but today I think I’ll just sit. Today, I’ll hide in the back room, sneaking sips of Diet Coke from me and my fellow interns’ two liter that we keep hidden in an old desk drawer.

“Why don’t you go grab the mail?” says Mary from across our small office space. She’s my boss, and a good one at that, so I head outside to the mailbox. The hill was outrageous to reach the top, and the box only yielded bills and a couple of fitness magazines.

2) I remember sitting at my tiny wooden desk, dust covering the phone, computer, and my chair. Each day I told myself that I’d never come back as an intern, never in a million years. I would spend my lunch breaks writing lists of all the companies that I would apply to for the following summer, while I sipped tiny cups of the Diet Coke that my fellow intern, Beini, and I had hidden away in an old cupboard in the IT room.

Working at at weight loss camp was painful. The temptations of the Dunkin’Donut drive-thru screamed my name whenever I ran an errand in town. But the Diet Coke was my vice. Anyways, it didn’t really feel right to eat donuts and drink sweet coffee, when all of the kids around me had, what seemed like, nothing but black beans and arugula.

The guilt of my secret snacks wasn’t too much though; daily, I huffed up and down a huge hill to get the mail for my boss, Mary. She would always suggest that I go grab it whenever I looked like my head was about to explode if one more angry, concerned, or overly-excited parent was on the other end of the phone.

3) The second part of this exercise was a lot easier for me. First off, I’m horrible with tenses. I can write narratives well, but not so much in the past tense. My voice, while somewhat the same, is a little more genuine in the second paragraph. I felt like I was trying too hard with all of the inner dialogue and whatnot in the first part.

This will be a huge challenge for me in this project, as I’ll be not only writing narratives in the past tense, but I’ll also be adopting the voice of those that I’m interviewing. I might have to try this exercise again, but using someone else’s story to push myself in the right direction of my project.

Final Portfolio Fiasco

Here we are- the end of another semester, and it came much faster than I could have ever expected (as it always does).

After four semesters, that went by more quickly than I can accurately describe, I’m halfway done with college. I’m at a scary, wonderful, fantastic, exciting, horrifying, clueless place where my life is starting to fall into place (or apart…it really just depends on the day).

As said in my introduction to my eportfolio, everyone (friends and family) was pleasantly surprised when I pursued the Minor in Writing through Sweetland. Being such a goofball, particularly unfocused and lacking of a life plan, I think it was comforting for those in my life to see that I was at least trying to figure things out.

This year, whether it was in Writing 220, English 229, or the empty tables in the back corners of South Quad, I learned a lot about myself and all that I had to offer. This class, along with rowing, work, and social events, has stretched me to reach my full potential.

Nope. I’m definitely not there yet. In fact, I’m a really long ways off.

But…I’m getting there. This class has taught me about keeping myself accountable, captivating an audience, giving critiques, implementing feedback, and finding my voice.

Not to be all too cheesy, but this class has helped me realize that I have a whole lot more to say than a story about a boy crying over grilled cheese (yeah I know, that one always comes up).  I can create dialogues in new mediums, convey ideas through words on paper like I can’t through speech, and thank goodness I can take criticism and make changes based on suggestions….I was a little stubborn before…

Anyways, this class was a serious high point of the semester. Whether it was making new friends, writing good papers (or bad ones), telling stories, or just quietly working on our projects, I gained so much from this course.

So, here it is! A compilation of essays and stories, reflections and comics. The eportfolio of a semester’s work; hours and hours of revision and typing and procrastinating…er uh…uninterrupted focus!

Please enjoy.

http://kjtopor.wix.com/katetoporskieport

Peace, love, and Shelley Manis.

Kate Effin’ Toporski out.

Repurposing In Progress

When originally reading the repurposing prompt and all that the project entailed, I was terrified. Maybe I wasn’t terrified, but I wasn’t super excited. It sounded hard, and I’m kind of stubborn when it comes to changing my work. But nonetheless, I’ve really enjoyed myself throughout this process.

Repurposing has taught be a lot about reverse engineering my models, breaking down my thought processes into even tinier, more intricate pieces.

My original piece of writing came from my blog- Hurricane Kate. The post, The Sophomore Experience: A Series of Unfortunate Hookups, outlined a typical family get-together over the holidays. These holiday dinners, without fail, include questions about my grades, my job, my classes, and ultimately why I don’t have a boyfriend. My repurposing was to create a collection of short stories stemming from my absolutely obnoxious and horrific experiences with guys. Originally, I was thinking of putting it in book format, but it seems to have transformed into a blog of sorts.

You can find my in-progress repurposing here (super in-progress, so don’t judge).

One struggle that I’ve overcome during this project is my worry of visualizing for my readers. I was very concerned during this project that I wouldn’t be able to communicate the awkwardness or the tension in these situations. I don’t think I’ve been doing too poorly in that aspect! I’ve been able to provide my audience with visuals through descriptive language and articulate the feeling of each situation.

In terms of what I’m still struggling with, while this is a humorous work, I do want to incorporate some bigger themes. I love making fun of my misfortunes, but for my audience’s sake, I’d love to tie in a theme of self-respect. In some of my other stories, I’m working on hinting at that theme and then BAM- bring it out and hit it home in the conclusion.

“You have to kiss a couple frogs before you find prince charming.”


Isn’t that what they say?

Whatever. I’ve done my fair share of frog-kissing.

I’m getting hyped about remediating and attempting to create some super awesome artistic *wink wink* comic. Shall be a grand old time!

Kate out.

Triumphs and Trials of Re-Purposing

I’m super fired up for my re-purposing plan.

I’ve never had the freedom to choose what I’ll work on, totally mangle it and mess it all up, tear it apart, and then bring it back to be something new and better than before.

Did I mention that I get to pick whatever piece of writing I want?

That’s an awesome, free, kind of adult feeling, when you get to make your own decisions about where you want to go and how you want to go about it.

My plan seems simple, going from blog to story form, but it’s turned out to be more challenging than I thought. I’ve really struggled to match my tone and voice from my blog, which I really enjoy and want to be a part of this collection of short stories. Even though I feel as if I’m capturing the essence of the story, I’m not catching the feeling.

I want readers to feel exactly what I felt, or at least be able to laugh at what I felt as a boy sat on my living room floor eating a grilled cheese and bawling his eyes out about his ex. I want readers to feel how awkward, and later how hilarious, that moment was. I want to bring my tone into these stories, just as it is present in my blog.

Along with feeling like my tone is lacking, I’m struggling to figure out how long these stories should be. A couple of pages or a chapter? While some stories are longer than others, I want a bit of parallelism between length. I was thinking 3-5 pages per story?

My last little trial is figuring out what will make this project special. How can I make readers want to reread and share and tell everyone about my funny little stories? I want to grab attention and make this project super awesome, but I just don’t know where to round it out. What is essential to make this a well-rounded, complete project?

So, I’m struggling with/looking for feedback on/tell me what you’re thinking about:

1. How can I make my stories conversational?

2. How long should these stories be?

3.  What do you think might be essential to rounding this project out?

In terms of triumphs, I’m having a genuinely fun time reconstructing these stories in full. There are so many details that I’ve shared by word-of-mouth, but never recorded by writing down. Lots of good laughing to myself in the library…wow, that sounded so sad.

Kate out.

Every Kind of Reading in 30 Minutes

Well, that was exhausting.

Who knew how many different genres of writing would be present in just 30 minutes of my day?

In just a half-hour, I encountered all but not limited to:

-emails (ctools notifications, rowing team threads (most of which are not actually about rowing), Dominos coupons, and a receipt for the milkshake I ordered from Tio’s last night)

-blogs (my own, a photography blog, and some makeup tutorial that I’m sure to slaughter)

-recipes (chicken alfredo…which was on point…leftovers available upon request)

-song lyrics (As Much As I Ever Could by City and Colour)

-text messages (from my mom, best friend, and this dude who will probably stand me up)

-articles (6 Yoga Poses to Improve Sleep, Why Can’t I Sleep?, Sleeping in College….can you tell I’m having trouble sleeping? The struggle is real.)

I honestly didn’t know that I could stumble upon so many different types of writing, or in my case reading, in such a short period of time. It reminds me of last week, in my Communications 122 class, when my friend pointed out to me that our professor says “um” a lot. Now, I can’t stop paying attention to how many times he says “um”. 618 times in the last lecture we had. But it’s the same with this assignment. Now that I realize how many types and times writing occurs in my daily life, I can’t let it go.

Now writing, in every form, is evident in everything around me.

But about the genres. I was able to tackle five different genres within 30 minutes, which doesn’t even seem like a whole lot when compared to my insane multi-tasking skills and distracted brain. Below I have simple lists for each category or genre that I dealt with.

Emails: memo format, 3 of the 5 were formal (being advertisements/automatic notifications) while the other 2 were very informal, short sentences with clear subjects, audience…adults?

Blogs: longer but still concise ideas, organized chronologically, multimodal (including links and photos), audience…young adult

Recipes: organized neatly with precise instructions, comments, and suggestions, ordered by what steps should be taken (numerically), easy to follow, audience…someone who is interested in cooking a kick ass alfredo sauce, so probably adults

Song Lyrics: very simple set up, organized by exact line presentation in the song, outer edge of page displayed “People who listened to City and Colour also listened to…”, audience…acoustic music lovers/City and Colour fans

Text Messages: very informal, short, multimodal (involved pictures and/or GIFs), audience…me

Articles: very similar to blog format, longer, conversational or instructional tone, outer edge of page includes ads related to articles (sleeping pills, tea, or yoga videos), organized by importance…important facts are point out early and repeated often, audience…college students or insomniacs

It was interesting to see how some genres related or differed from each other. For example, articles and blogs differed when it came to tone, but articles and song lyrics were similarly formatted in terms of surrounding links. Overall, writing is everywhere and we can’t escape it. But I’m fine with that.

Kate out.

Project Proposal

I was looking through my folders of old papers, scuffling through everything I’d written in the past two years. I hit everything from character analyses of Parks and Rec to a review of a local breakfast joint. I picked through what seemed like a never-ending pile a crud; there was nothing here that I could work with. Searching for old writing that I could use for my repurposing project was a chore, considering I was only looking into things that I had written for school or work.

But very luckily, a distracted day in class presented me with the perfect idea.

As I have mentioned before, I have a collection of unfortunate encounters with the male species. Whether it be being stood up at my own birthday party or a guy crying over a grilled cheese sandwich in my living room, I have a storybook of weird experiences with dudes.

And that was that. A storybook.

My idea is to convert an old blog post (which can be found here at my horrendously cheesy blog- Hurricane Kate) along with various word-of-mouth stories, into a small collection of laughable, failed attempts at romance. These stories are generally pretty short, but could have a fun twist by converting them into words instead of ridiculous stories I tell when I get distracted during class.

My goal for this piece (comprised of various smaller pieces) would be to tell a story while making people laugh. I want a genuine giggle out of my readers, all while using the “right” words to articulate the exact setting, feeling, and awkwardness of every situation.

Check out the blog, tell me if you think this is doable. Trust me- I’ve got plenty of stories to tell.

Kate out.

Why I Write Response

What in either or all of the Orwell/Didion/Sullivan readings resonates with you? (i.e. What did you find funny, silly, touching, boring, inspiring, uncomfortable, dismaying, true, etc.) Why/how?

While I usually dread any required reading for my classes, I found I was pleasantly surprised when reading the Why I Write pieces from Orwell, Didion, and Sullivan. Each piece, ranging from a chronological acceptance of writership to an overview of the evolution of words and technology, had lines of the barely describable joys and frustrations that every writer has experienced.

Briefly overviewing the three pieces, I found myself enthralled and disgusted with the Orwell piece. It left me with such a cynical feeling. Why, and how, could someone possibly be so negative about being a writer? Being a writer is beautiful and wonderful, difficult yes, but a fantastic quality and passion. I felt a constant resistance from Orwell about his acceptance of being a writer. He made some painfully true points about motives for writing. I found myself nodding while reading his “we write to get back at the adults who snubbed us in our childhood” spiel. His four motives were surprisingly accurate; I had written for all four reasons: sheer egoism (yes, I love seeing my name published), aesthetic enthusiasm (I sputter endlessly while speaking, but writing is just a beautiful outlet), historical impulse, and political purpose. Some resonating more than others, I found myself in regretful agreement with a man who seemed to feel so burdened with the role of a writer.

As for Didion’s piece, there were a couple of lines that gave me that “I need to start at the top of the page just to get that feeling again” reading experience. “All I knew then was what I couldn’t do.  All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. A writer.” Boy does that strike a familiar feeling! While it has little to do with my experiences as a writer, it resonates at an astronomical level as a college student. So, I have zero idea what type of job I want, hell I’m barely sure of my major, but I swear I could name a billion things that I’m not going to be. I’ll never be a doctor or a mathematician, and maybe I’m still in the process of figuring what I am. But for now a writer is just grand. I like that a lot. Didion also displayed incredible skill is visualizing through words. Her piece was basically multimodal because I felt as if I could see everything she was writing. From the shimmering buildings to the white-halter dress strutting through the casino, I was in awe of how she could so easily turn words into pictures.

Lastly, I’d love to look at the piece that most resonated with me as a writer. Sullivan’s “Why I Blog” was, while incredibly long, an awesome look into the evolution and words and their publication. He went over blogging “tactics” if you will, as well as his own journey immersing himself into the blogging scene. It was so refreshing to read my own blogging process taking place in the mind of another. From his initial transition to his readers’ comments, I felt all the same. When I first began blogging, it was quite the experience. Instead of hoping my writing was chosen for the school’s newspaper or begging someone to give it a glance, it was free for reading and critiques in the online community. This, as Sullivan mentioned, opened all doors and opportunities for critics. As I’m sure the following on my blog isn’t as large as Sullivan’s, I’ve had my fair share of emails and comments about my opinions, style, and experiences.

Incorporating the “Shitty First Draft” piece that we also read, I often want to pluck the readers and trap them in a mason jars, for the sole purpose of completing a thought or series without my writing self-esteem being completely shredded. But it stands true, that the comments we don’t want to read or hear (especially the ones we don’t want to acknowledge), can bring our writing to the next level.

On an ending note, I would like the bring up “the ending note”. Sullivan’s genius ending line left me with chills and a smile. As a word-lover till death, the phrase- “Words, of all sorts, have never seemed so now.”- rings with truth and beauty. While newspapers are fading and paper publications slowly dwindle, I find words more present and intoxicating than ever before. In every medium and circumstance, the beauty of words is found, whether in actual written form, speech, gestures, or visuals. Now is the time to speak beautifully and freely, as wordage has never been more abundant and relevant.

Write happily, my friends. We have good stuff to say.

Kate out.

The Joys of Reading Recreationally

It was an honestly sad moment. All it took were a couple of words.

“Do you want to go to the library?”

Instantly, there were tears in my eyes. Coming home for Christmas Break allowed for various things to happen. I finally had time to spend with family and friends, plenty of food to eat, and most importantly opportunity to be pegged with the never-ending questions about my future and my perpetual single-ness. But something such as reading recreationally hadn’t even been an option, not with the endless lifeguarding shifts and the dry textbook readings assigned on a daily from my history professor.

Over break, I plunged myself into the task of reading as much as a could, recreationally, before I would be launched back into the reality of LS&A and all of the reading its humanities courses’ require. I dedicated all of my time to Jodi Picoult, J.K. Rowling, Sarah Dessen, and Chuck Klosterman. I laughed and cried and rewatched all of the Harry Potter movies. It was a grand old time.

While I enjoy to read many things, I always find myself deep in Sarah Dessen’s unchanging plots of unreachable girl meets unreachable boy…then they reach each other? I don’t know. I’m a sucker for all of that romance giggity.

As I said in class, I love the one-liners. Getting to the bottom of a page and going back just to get the same feeling you did when you read that sentence. Goosebumps, tears, whatever. Anything that can really elicit emotions is pretty fantastic. Chuck Klosterman has a great line in his book Eating the Dinosaur: “Time doesn’t wait for your participation in life.” Is that so great or what? Time doesn’t stop, or much less care, because you aren’t fulfilling your destiny or making the most out of the opportunities granted to you! Ugh, I get so hyped when I read that…then slowly slip back into my coma of Netflix.

I often find myself scrounging around WordPress, looking for other blogs to read. I write my own blog, but it always feels quite strange to read my own writing…especially because it was meant for someone else to enjoy.

Anyways, I love to read. I love to read what I want, when I can.

Christmas break is a magical time, but now I’m off to read something about Evolutionary Anthropology.