Finally Finished…

Recently, a rapper from Detroit, Mi came out out with his first debut album, Finally Famous. Basically, after all of the hard times and struggles with record sales, he’s finally famous. This guy is Big Sean, he’s only a year older than me and we went to the same high school. So I can imagine his struggle and his excitement to be finally famous. This is precisely how I feel, except replace the famous with finished! I’m Finally Finished.

 There is something quite captivating about that word finally. Finally carries a deeper meaning as to say it was a struggle to get to this point and to say finally means you were able to move a mountain and overcome. To say finally means that you don’t have to go back but you can move forward. It means that you’ve reached the light at the end of the tunnel!

To say finally means to overcome something. However, some “finally’s” are bigger than others. Today I attended Black Celebratory which is the Black graduation celebration here at the University of Michigan’s campus. They honored undergraduates, graduates, and doctoral students who were graduating. Each person got the chance to walk across the stage. As we moved from undergraduate students, to graduate students the applause got louder. As we moved from graduate students to doctoral students there was absolute mayhem, I mean it was like a football game in there! There was a particular moment when the last doctoral student went up and they announced he was receiving his doctorate in medicine and it was a synchronized shout of joy all across the auditorium, you would have thought the heavens opened or something. But everyone cheered for him and celebrated with him because they knew he was finally finished. And that was a bigger finally than an undergraduate degree or a masters degree. It was a finally of bigger triumph.

So, my finally is small, but it still counts. It doesn’t diminish all I have overcome this year to get to this point to say that I’m finally finished. My finally may be small but it means a lot right now. This was the last assignment I had for this semester and now I’m going into my senior year in the Fall to attempt to finish and conquer an even bigger “finally” at the end of Winter term 2013. As for right now I’m finally finished…

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Mimicking

It must be an amazing experience when you encounter someone that is just like you. Especially when you’ve felt like for so long that you were the only one. Just this past weekend I was with my niece and she doesn’t encounter little girls a lot because my sister hasn’t had her around a lot of children. She’s only one she’ll be two in June.

 

Any who, we were walking down the street and she saw a little girl that was the same height, and used the same form of “talking” as my niece did. They stared at each other and smiled for about five minutes before talking in “infant” talk to one another. When they first saw each other they ran to each other and just stared and smiled. It was like a light-bulb moment or love at first sight. It was almost as if they were checking each other to make sure they were real.

 

I thought about moments in my life that were like that. Moments that brought out the smile-of-fascination. I remember reading a book by Toni Morrison called The Bluest Eye, there were times throughout the book that I thought only came from my mind. There were things that I thought only I thought about. I felt like the writer took a piece of me. Knew things about me that I never told anyone about but somehow could pinpoint the exact words to describe my feelings.

 

I found myself wanting to imitate these writers. I wanted to know how to express myself in the ways that they could. So that the hope one day someone would place a smile-of-fascination on something that I wrote.

 

My niece and the little girl followed each other. They were in awe on each other’s mannerisms and likeness. In the same ways I think you look up to people that you feel are like you and try to mimic them. I look up to writers like Toni Morrison and Richard Wright because I’m in awe of their writing. My niece respects me and admires me in ways because I’m one person that does fun stuff with her. I allow her to have interactions and experiences a kid should have. So, there are times she mimics me…

I think the ideas of admiration and mimicking are important to writing because it helps develop your writing style more.

Mind over Body?

Everyone who has lived in Michigan through the four seasons can sum up Michigan weather in one word: unpredictable. There could be a day where there’s a blizzard one moment, sunshine the next, and a thunderstorm by nightfall. The bi-polarishness (made up word) of Michigan weather drives my sinuses crazy!

After returning from an amazing week-long tour with my choir over SpringBreak ( a majority of my time spent down south). I returned to Michigan to snowing, and a bitter cold. My already soar voice from singing worsened, my eyes were itchy, and my nose got stuffy. Everyday I continued to work through, my sinuses became worse and worse. Throughout the week though, I continued to tell myself not to act sick, because (I thought) if I could convince myself that I wasn’t sick then I would get better.

Ohhhhhh contraire!!! Thursday night I completely crashed! I went and the next morning I couldn’t life my head up, and it followed for the entire weekend and Monday! My body was so exhausted and I felt so terrible.  Here’s an idea…

When I told myself to think that I was ok and I would get better, I was really telling my body that I didn’t have time to be sick because work had to be done!

It reminded me of one of my friends, who is always busy, I know we all have those friends who are always busy, for some of us we’re that friend! But she didn’t sleep much, always ate on the go, never really had time to rest or just chill. So she got really sick and she went to UHS to figure out what was going on. They told her the cause of her sickness was stress and that she really just needed to get some rest. That was her body’s way of telling her it needed a rest.

I guess this has been on my mind because I’ve just been thinking about the last few weeks of this semester and all of the exams and big assignments I have due. So many times I ignore my body and I wonder how much damage I’m doing to myself. I just have to remember that I’m a tripartite being of body, soul and spirit. So I have to manage a well balance of all three, otherwise it throws everything else off. Then again, the major unbalance is apart of the Michigan Difference. Right?

 meets 

:-/

The Moment

I watch a lot of Basketball. My favorite team is the Los Angeles Lakers (you know the team with three All-Stars and the greatest player, Kobe Bryant). I watch a lot of their games, and I read a lot of their articles. The most exciting games are those when the shooting is incredible. The shots come off of great assists and the team works together. And then the game gets to that moment where the entire stadium rises up and the person in the air shooting will determine their team’s fate.

Everyone in the stadium is watching the ball, but I’m looking at the player. I’m looking to see when their face turns from anticipation to joy, gloom, or “my bad”. I’ve been in one of those stadiums, I’ve experienced the excitement. I’ve watched an entire stadium anticipate a score only for their dreams to be shattered once the buzzer sounds.

As I read the article the next day, you don’t get that feeling. And I wonder if those moments can be captured in writing so emphatically that even readers that weren’t present could feel them? I wonder if readers can actually know how it felt to be there. How it felt for the players? Or how it even how it felt for the fans? Can such a great moment really be expressed in writing?

If there exists such writing I want to read it, and if there isn’t I want to write it. I want to write about how it really feels to be in the moment. Not to just to express great moments in sports but just great moments period. Because it just feels so good.

 

Whitney: The Great

Recently, the music industry lost (in my opinions and many others) the greatest singer to ever grace the stage, Whitney Houston or so appropriately nicknamed by Oprah, “The Voice . My blog assignment for this week was to find an interview of an author that I admired and write about them. I could not think of anyone else but Whitney Houston. Now, technically, she’s not an author, but she writes songs that she might not fully express on the page but that does not make it less of writing in art form.

 

So, the interview I found was from 2009. Whitney Houston was in the mist of promoting her comeback album I Look To You in New York. Her and Clive Davis who she calls her God Father and her partner did an interview talking about her new album and it being in the standard of a Whitney and Clive collaboration.

 

Whitney Houston co-wrote on the songs I Look To You on the album and I didn’t know my own strength and both songs were inspired from what she had been through in the years leading to her comeback. She battled with substance abuse in an unhealthy marriage for nearly 20 years and in this album the songs she wrote modeled the things she had come out of and how she came about doing that. In those ways she tells a story in her music.

 

One thing that Whitney mentioned in the interview was that she sang her music with the intention to inspire. She cites her Christian background and singing in the church for the reason she sings the way she does. So, she takes the ways in which people were influenced by singing around her when she was younger and puts that into when she writes music and when she performs it.

 

Personally, Whitney Houston’s music has always inspired me. Not only the songs she writes or chooses to do based on the lyrics but also the way she expresses those words in song. I am one of those YouTube stalkers so I look up performances all the time of music artist. Whitney Houston was the only artist I have found who literally controlled the stage and the performance with just her voice. Michael Jackson needed the moonwalk and Beyonce needs the unison choreography. However, Whitney Houston only had her voice. And it was so inspirational. From listening to her talk about her music and perform it for years I am only inspired to have my writing do the same for others. Rest in Peace Whitney!!

 

Below is one of her noted performances, singing the Star Spangled Banner at the Super Bowl XXV,

Whitney H

The Blog ;-)

I have to admit, I’m still indifferent about blogging. Even after blogging every week, and even after reading other people’s blogs. I think Paige from the Fall cohort said it best when she expressed her initial feelings about blogging, “I didn’t like it, I thought it was busy work.”

Now, I’m fully aware that this is a writing course, I was expecting to write every week. However, I was thinking something more along the lines of free write stuff. Blogging just seemed like a lot of pressure. It was intimidating at first.

When I read Andrew Sullivan’s, Why I Blog the first time the main thing that stuck out to me was his point that blogging was writing out loud. That took a lot of pressure off of me to just write whatever was on my mind. Now, blogging doesn’t seem like a lot of pressure at all it’s just another form of journaling (another point Sullivan makes), and I journal all the time! It’s a very unique form of broadcasting your writing, but I wouldn’t label blogging as a new form of writing. I believe people have been blogging for years, they just did not have an Internet to put it on and people to join in on the conversation with.

I think the thing that makes blogging so unique is it’s quick responses, mixed with emotions, and live facts. And for readers, it’s exhilarating (if the content is juicy) to read, just as exhilarating as finding your sisters diary and reading all the stuff you never knew about her (a feeling I know all to well).

All the same, I’m re-purposing an essay right now that argues the different meanings and interpretations of the word, “bitch” in social settings. It originally was an argument to prove that the word has different meanings other than what is portrayed in the dictionary. In re-purposing the essay, I want to convince writers of the Dictionary to add those other definitions of the word, “bitch” to the actual Dictionary.

I’m turning it from an argumentative essay to something that is strictly opinionated based on the way that I and others use words. This turns it more into blogging because it’s really based off of how I feel when I use words and being limited to dictionary definitions. I haven’t yet worked out all the kinks but it shall come together. I am learning how to integrate blogging into traditional writing. I no longer carry my first reactions about blogging being “busy work”. However, I’ve learned that blogging ain’t such bitch after all.

 

Sigh of Relief

WOW! I did not know how helpful and e-portfolio could be, and this is coming from a person who has done one before! As I looked through the portfolio’s I realized that they can be specific to whatever you want them to be. It’s a longer yet more interestingly convincing resume. My first reaction was, “I can’t wait to have one of these bad babies to impress my employers!”

I also really enjoyed the themes, I think this gives space for people to really get to know the type of person you are. It almost seems like a more professional Facebook page. One kid, Joseph Elliot, had the theme “Opposites Attract” and he had a cool quote related, “Life is a series of pulls back and forth. You want to do one thing but you are bound to do something else.” And you can see how his quote relates to that theme and it is also throughout his writing included on his portfolio. I just think this e-portfolio is very unique because it can really tell somebody about the type of person you are versus the things you have done.

In class we’ve talked some about the type of writers that we are and how that relates to our life. I think those discussions are great set-ups toward discovering themes for our e-portfolios. Especially the first essay “Why I Write” a lot of people expressed how writing relates to their careers and how it has been a theme throughout their lives. In getting us thinking about that it will definitely help us in forming our e-portfolios. I am definitely more at ease about the portfolios. Before I was really concerned about how I would “pull it off”. But I’ll just talk about my life as so consistently explained throughout many e-portfolios from the Fall Cohort. So, I’ll just take a sigh of relief.

The Posture of a Writer

Benjamin Franklin said it best, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” I have this term embedded in my brain, stirring up ways that I can do both. The interesting thing about this quote is that if you write something worth reading then you’ve done something worth writing about. And that is the great cycle of reading and writing.
In Brandt’s, “How Writing is Remaking Reading”, she stated, “Reading may make you more productive but writing is more productive”, which is possibly one of the greatest statements on the relationship of reading and writing. However, that statement made me think about how closely my reading affects my writing.
When I know I have an idea or something to write, thoughts start racing through my head, and I get this weird feeling that something needs to go on the page before I explode. Most of the time, those thoughts come after an intense class discussion, which was followed by and intense reading of someone’s text the night before. So, when I read Brandt’s quote I realized how productive reading was to the already unproductive process of writing.
Another thing that struck me was from Brandt’s “The status of Writing” it stated, “Especially powerful reports of the effects of writing-intensity, what happens when people spend anywhere from 30 percent to 90 percent of the work day in the posture of the writer.” This struck me because it made me think about those moments when I have a paper due soon, and I wonder if there is something different about my posture during those times. Or if I’m always in the posture of a writer, allowing myself to be influenced, for the better of my writing, by the world around me. I do not have the results back on my assessment of myself. However, these are definitely some thoughts I will keep in mind in my writing process.

The Reason?

Writing is a long process, with first drafts, second drafts, and the list goes on. Not only is it a long process but it’s also a pencil tapping, hair pulling, nail biting process. I could make a list as long as a servant’s duties for his King about how I write. About how I when I’m getting closer to a deadline I wake up with it hanging over my head. About how I go throughout the day thinking about how I’m going to accurately argue my point. About how I try to do every trivial thing around my apartment before having to sit down and think through the first draft of my paper.
Thinking through the list of how I write is mind-boggling and as frustrating as that list sounds I can’t even begin to make myself understand why I do it. These are the thoughts that are going through my head as I try to sit down and compose an essay telling myself and other people the reasons I write. It is so challenging to think about why I put myself through so much paranoia in wondering if my sentences run too long, my commas are in place, if my conclusion is strong, or if my arguments are clear and support my thesis statement.
The only conclusion I have come up with is because my teachers make me. The University of Michigan makes me. And most importantly society makes me. I write because I have a Twitter, Facebook, and unlimited text messages. Society provides those for me. These are the most accurate reasons I could think up. So you can probably see my challenge in writing an essay explaining exactly why I write when my reasons do not extend upon three or four sentences. Solving this problem will probably result in going back to my rituals under the topic of How I Write. Interesting ideas tend to stem from those processes.

WRITER

Orwell and Didion gave an interesting insight on their writing processes and the reasons they write. It was very interesting to see both of them take the label of a writer and the wrestle they had with that title. Didion puts it, “All I knew then was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer.” I found that hilarious and also extremely personal because coming into college it seemed everyone had a plan for a major, and all I could seem to do was come up of a pretty detailed list of what I did not want to do. Unfortunately, the list for what I did want to do was not as easy to write.
On the other hand, Orwell comes out with the same idea of knowing that he “should” be a writer but tries to “abandon” the idea of it. His imagination as a child attributed to the “should” part of him becoming a writer. With Didion’s and Orwell’s resistance to take the title of a writer, it makes me wonder of the nightmare that must exist in writer’s struggling with accepting their destiny. If you ask an engineer they will tell you with confidence they are an engineer (even if they are just an engineering student). If you ask some one that is pre-med, they will look you right in the eyes and tell you they are going to be a doctor of some sort. So, where is the confidence, the acceptance of taking on the title of ‘writer’ among people where it seems to be an inevitable destiny?
I had the pleasure of taking a class here at the University of Michigan with re-known writer, Lorna Goodison. One class we convinced her to do a reading of her memoir and she agreed. After, we asked questions and someone asked her why she writes. She simply said it was because she had no other choice. A follow up question was asking what she meant by that. She began to describe how she gets a weird feeling and then she knows she needs to write something or she won’t feel ‘normal’ again until she does. From reading Didion and Orwell, I’m beginning to believe more and more that being a writer is not a choice.