Tuesday, February 28, 2006

"Half Story" for creative writing

She threw her keys down on the table, along with a stack of bills and a dried, withered Iris. He had given it to her to "ease" her through their breakup. A growl erupted from her throat. It wouldn't have worked, anyway. Aubrey and Jack just didn't look elegant, fitting in fancy calligraphy on wedding invitations. That was always a way to tell if a relationship was doomed to fail.
He knew Irises were her favorite flower. She liked the delicate, almost periwinkle blue that faded across the petals. She liked the vibrant yellow center. There was something untraditional about an Iris. Something not as cliché at a rose, more complex than a tulip. She had let it die, hadn't even bothered to put it in water. A foolishly symbolic gesture, she knew, one that caused her sensibilities to cringe at letting beauty die. She had done it anyway, half hoping Jack would walk by her office to grovel and beg for her to take him back so she could wave the withered, dry flower in his face as if to say "I showed you!" Okay, so maybe that wouldn't be all that effective…at the time it was the best she could come up with.
She was about to go take a long, hot shower, possibly with a very large glass of wine nearby, when she saw the brochure. Enjoy a luxurious weekend in Paris! On the background was a stunning if not intimidating picture of the Eiffel Tower and a happy couple standing in front of it. Aubrey pursed her lips and imagined stuffing a withered Iris into the man's open, laughing mouth. And watching him choke.
A weekend in Paris? Well crap, who wouldn't want to enjoy a luxurious weekend in Paris? She bit her lip… She had saved up a little extra, and damn it, she was entitled to a little treat. Okay, a somewhat enormous treat. But she was entitled. Was she really considering this? A spur of the moment decision? Aubrey was not a spur of the moment person. Impulsivity was not in her nature. She shook her head at her foolish idea…. How ridiculous….

It was ridiculous, she thought, as her plane landed in Charles de Gaulle airport two days later. It was a short drive to Paris. A beautiful, stunning, gorgeous, striking drive to Paris. Well, there were an enormous amount of boring, slate gray buildings blocking her view of what she was sure was a beautiful, stunning, gorgeous and striking view. She grinned idiotically out the window, her hands splayed against the window, prattling off questions to the taxi driver. He rolled his eyes and enhanced his accent. He was American, living in Paris with his fiancé. He adopted the fake persona for the tourists. They were so gullible he thought. Then again, he did have a particularly nice French accent.
She dropped her bags off and without even touching up her make up, left the hotel. Who was she going to see anyway? She took a deep breath as she stepped outside, inhaling the fantastic French air. And a man's cigarette smoke. She coughed abruptly, half fearing she would do something embarrassing like pee in her pants. The man gave her a sneering look before walking away. She wanted to sneer back but got distracted by a man selling flowers on the road side. "Oh, how beautiful!" She exclaimed, touching the crimson petals of a poppy.
He nodded and pointed to the sign that said "5 euro." Disappointed that he didn't exclaim "Beautiful flowers for a beautiful lady" in French or something equally romantic, which she wouldn’t have understood anyway, she walked on and arrived at L'arc de Triomphe. She stared at its magnificent height. She wanted to take out her camera and snap a hundred or so shots to brag to her coworkers with later without looking like a tourist. Debating on how to accomplish this feat, she didn’t notice the man that bumped into her. "Pardon," He said in a gorgeous French accent, flashing a gallant smile at her before turning to walk on. He hesitated, and turned back. "You look lost, do you need any help?"
Her jaw dropped against her will. He was hot. No, he wasn't hot. He was a god. She was sure of it. He was a god from ancient Roman times that had somehow invented time travel into the present day. In an Armani suit. Realizing she was standing there gaping like an idiot, she snapped it shut. Reply! She told herself. Don't just stand here staring at him like a half-brained idiot! "You are really hot." Oh my god, please tell me I did not say that, please tell me I did not say that. But she had.

Monday, February 27, 2006

10 Bibliography Sources

Ebadi, Manuchair. Pharmacodynamic Basis of Herbal Medicine. Florida: CRC Press
LLC, 2002

Ebadi writes of the importance on herbal medicine in this collection of various herbal treatments to mental illnesses such as depression. He backs up his arguments with traditional, religious beliefs, for example a quote from Ecclesiastes: "The Lord has created medicines out of the earth and he that is wise will not abhor them." He gives examples of alternative therapies to antidepressants, such as vitamins and diet, antioxidants, various vitamins and plants that can help treat depression. He lists certain foods that are excellent in helping depression, such as rhubarb, saffron, tomatoes and oats.

Ainsworth, Patricia. Understanding Depression. Mississippi: University Press of
Mississippi, 2000.

In this book, Patricia Ainsworth described the intricacies of depression and how it works. She explained the psychological, biological, and physical aspects of mental disorders such as depression. She explains the causes of depression, which she splits into two major categories: psychological and neurobiological. She describes various types of treatment, how researchers search for a cure, and controversies that surround the medication topic.

Salmans, Sandra. Depression: Questions You Have, Answers You Need. Pennsylvania:
People's Medical Society, 1995.

Sandra Salman's book is great for revealing the fallacies that surround depression, including many stigmas and controversies. She describes that there are different forms of depression and that there are certain risk groups for depression. Salman also state that depression is increased in women, thus revealing the gender differences with depression. She discusses antidepressants, electroconvulsive therapy, and light therapy.

Wolpert, Lewis. Malignant Sadness: The Anatomy of Depression. New York: The Free
Press, 1999.

Wolpert defines depression in clinical terms. He also delves into the realm of mania and bi-polar disorders. Individuals that suffer from bi-polar disorders often suffer from depression as well, revealing that there is a link between the two. He also reveals that suicide is the ultimate end to depressive acts. He describes psychotherapy and how he thinks treatment will vary in the future.

Solomon, Andrew. The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression. New York: Scribner,

This book contains not only definitions of depression, but what is involved in breakdowns and suicide. Andrew Solomon also discusses the history of depression and how poverty and politics come into play into this mental illness. The evolution of depression has increased dramatically in the last century at an alarming rate, but Solomon suggests there is hope in the future with new treatments and new ways of thinking.

Davidson, Jonathan et al. Herbs for the Mind. New York: Guilford Press, 2000.

This book discusses depression and its effect on stress, memory loss, and insomnia. The authors reveal what science tells us about nature's remedies for depression. They talk about St. John's Wort and how it has been used to treat low cases of depression in the past. Kava, Ginkgo and Valerian are also other natural herbs that can treat sleep disorders, stress, memory, and depression. The book reveals other treatment options to the normal medical treatments.

Zuess, Jonathan. The Wisdom of Depression. New York: Harmony Books, 1998.

Zuess provides a guide to understanding and curing depression using natural medicine. He gives person stories of healing transformation using natural medicine. He also reveals that dreams can help heal us and hold the key to depression. He reveals a more spiritual side to mental illnesses, suggesting that the darkness of depression covers God, to him one of the keys to recovering from depression. He also believes poetry, art and creativity can lead to recovery.

Coyne, James C. Essential Papers on Depression. Ed. New York: New York University
Press, 1985.

James Coyne provides a collection of journal entries and essays on the topic of depression. Some of the articles provide a background on the history of depression from Freud and other well-known researchers. The discussion on learned helplessness and depression as well as self-control is a key to understanding the fundamentals of depression. There exist behavioral and cognitive approaches to helping solve the puzzles of depression.

"Ditch the Pills (Antidepressants). New Scientist 187.2509 (2005): p4

This article suggests that people prescribed antidepressants are always going to think they can't deal with problems themselves. One researcher suggests that since we are prescribing more antidepressants, but there's no evidence they make people less depressed. Suicide rates have no stopped entirely and people are not increasingly getting back to work, this article suggests. Most experts, however, disagree. They state that evidence still favors antidepressants for more serve forms.

Altshuler, Lori et al. "Antidepressant-induced mania and cycle acceleration: a
controversy revisited." American Journal of Psychiatry 9 (1995): p1130

This research articles uses methods of using criteria established from life charts. Investigators rated the patients' episodes of mania or cycle acceleration as likely or unlikely to have been induced by antidepressant therapy. This article suggests antidepressants don't always help but instead can increase depressive thoughts and in rare cases increase risk of suicide.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Style Lesson 2

Style: Lesson 2

This chapter deals with the topic of writing correctly. While it is important to obey the rules of grammar and etiquette, we must respect the difference between fact and folklore. Times have changed and along with it, grammar rules and styles. Those who obey every rule may be grammatically correct but they may not sound as well. If you obsess over rules, you will keep yourself from writing quickly and clearly. The author states, "we must reject the notion that observing the rules of Standard English testifies to someone's intellectual or moral superiority. That belief is not just factually wrong; in a diverse democracy like ours, it's destructive."
There are three kinds of rules. The first of which is "Real Rules" which define what makes English, such as articles that precede nouns, such as the book instead of not book the. Most individuals violate these only when they are distracted or tired. A second rule is "the rules of Standard English", which distinguish the standard dialect from nonstandard ones. For instance, it is He doesn't have any money rather than He don't have no money. A third rule is a handful of rules that they think we should observe, called "Folklore" rules.
There also exist two kinds of invented rules: Folklore and Elegant Options. With the Folklore rule, when you violated these "rules", few careful readers notice or much less care. Similarly, with elegant options, when you ignore these rules, few readers notice. Under the folklore category, they suggest you should not begin sentences with and or but. However, when a writer does, few people take notice. Folklore rules also state that you should use since and while to refer only to time, not to mean because or although. One of the elegant rules suggest that you do not end sentences with prepositions.
There are also some words that attract special attention that suggest people do not know the true meaning. For instance, aggravate means "to make worse", it does not mean "to annoy." The word "anxious" means "uneasy", not eager. Today few readers care about thee distinctions, but they may be just those whose judgment carries special weight when it matters most.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Prewriting Exercises

Prewriting to Generate Ideas:


The issue of depression on college campuses, stereotypes attached to it, and methods of treatment are all present day concerns. Research has shown that increasing numbers of students in college suffer from depression. Behaviors towards individuals that suffer from mental illnesses vary from compassionate and understanding to harsh criticism. Some students feel signaled out and feel forced to hide their problems. Others are very open and not afraid to share their tribulations. There is a great deal of stigmas attached to mental health problems, a factor that many psychologists and doctors wish to fix. However, it is difficult to repair a fixed stigma in society's mind.
One area of specific controversy is the treatment of depression. Some believe that some methods of treatment are better than others. For instance, there are many individuals who believe chemical treatments are not natural and in the end unhealthy. They believe we have become a "Prozac nation" and that such medical precautions are unnecessary. Such believers suggest anti-depressants such as Prozac work just as a placebo and in the end do not do anything helpful. Others believe that since depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain, it should be corrected through chemical means. These natural thinkers believe that treating the mind must first go through therapy before pursuing medical treatments.
Some students face tribulations in their college career, such as a parent's divorce, and suffer from what they consider clinical depression. These students that jump to such hasty conclusions make those who suffer from true depression seem false. It is an unfortunate event but occurs on many college campuses. Students that due undergo depression experience it without understanding or without any warning. Their academic status may drop and cause concern in their professors and parents. The fact that some claim temporary sadness to clinical depression is a stigma that causes undue suffering in those that experience long-term depression.

Prewriting to Organize Ideas:


I. Stigmas attached to college students who suffer from depression
a. Students grades drop
i. Students are not trying academically
ii. Depression can lead to physical illness as well as an academic drop
iii. Suicide rates have forced colleges to examine mental health
b. They are not trying to overcome their mental illness
II. Treatment Methods
a. Depression is a chemical imbalance
i. Depression needs to be cured chemically
ii. Medication such a Prozac are the only cure
b. Depression should be cured naturally
i. Therapy should be the first option
ii. New age treatments such as medication can be helpful
iii. Medication is not natural and therefore
c. Increased trend in antidepressant treatment
i. Concern that students are seeking treatment from typical college stressors
ii. Students abuse antidepressant treatment
iii. Students undermine those who actually suffer from depression
III. Self esteem and depression
a. Those who drink more have a lowered self-esteem and increased risk of depression
b. Those who smoke more have increased risk of depression.
c. Depression can lead to increased health risks along with alcohol and smoking

Friday, February 24, 2006

a beginning of a story...

Third grade is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Part of it glides down your throat like smooth globs of memories that are delicious at the time but are transient in their sweetness. And part of it sticks to the roof of your mouth and remains there like a bad thought or a guilty feeling. It’s the peanut butter part that we usually remember; it remains fixed in its rigid position, unmoved by your attempts to part with it. Its stubborn consistency has a valuable though trying aspect to it as well. No matter how the peanut butter fastens to the roof of your mouth with tenacious, sticky fingers, you either learn how to remove it and eradicate the obstacle, or you learn to cope with it.
When I think back on my childhood, it’s a hazy hue of crayons, play-doh, and My-Little-Ponies. Whenever I try to recapture an image, it usually consists of me, by myself, reading or molding some unicorn or castle out of clay. The unicorn somehow turns out to look like a cat and the “castle” more resembles a dilapidated shack. But however these images were formed, they were formed in solitude. Today being alone is considered unusual. That idea is not directly spoken out loud, but it’s implied if someone is eating by themselves or taking a walk alone people automatically think “Why is that person alone?” or “What is wrong with him? Maybe I should sit with him so he’s not alone.” Of course, it doesn’t take a psychiatrist from Harvard to argue that being alone all the time is not healthy. However, somewhere in the hustle and bustle of the modern-age world, the term “me-time” has been lost. Solitude is not beneficial to your health when it is permanently practiced, but finding quiet time for yourself every now and then is often underrated.
Sometimes I am amazed at how self-absorbed people can be. It's great to be excited about the weekend, but there is more to life than alcohol and parties. I would take a guess and say that 90% of this campus remains unaware of the Maymont Park incident, and another 5% just don't care. I understand I am more passionate than most about animals rights, but all the same I was surprised when most people I talked to didn't even know what had happened.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Irresponsibility and Ignorance

Just something I saw on the news that truly outraged me.... Just a little commentary...

The two black bears at Maymont Park were put down today after a child was bitten by one of them over the weekend. Maymont officials say they didn't find out about the incident until Tuesday. Park officials say the child's parents allegedly lifted them over a 4-foot fence surrounding another chain link fence enclosing the bear's 2 acre habitat. The child then put their hand through the 10-foot fence and was bitten. Officials say the bite was not severe.
This morning park officials met with the State Department of Game and Inland Fisheries and the Health Department to decide on the future of the bear exhibit. Officials decided that they had to euthanize both of them since they didn't know if they had rabies or which one bit the child. Veterinarians will test brain tissue to determine if they were rabid.
The Maymont exhibit's two male black bears came to the park from the game department. The older bear was orphaned and given to the park as a cub.

I am astonished that such actions were taken against innocent creatures. I have grown up in Maymont Park and the bear's were one of my favorite exhibits. I don't necessarily believe in the captivity of wild animals, but in some cases, as in orphaned animals, they would die in the wild.

I am outraged that such ignorant parents cause such distruction as seen in the death of such beautiful animals. I remain pretty quiet most times, but when such injustice has been commited, I cannot sit still. Irresponsibility that causes in the loss of life should NOT be tolerated.

Religion Paper

Chapter 6: "The Chronological Framework of the Life of Jesus"; pg 151-161

Section 1: Summary

This chapter dealt with the physical time and period of Jesus' life. The duration of Jesus' activity is unknown but the possibilities extend from a few months to several years. Two theories are that (according to the Synoptics) Jesus began his public activity after the imprisonment of John the Baptist. According to John, however, the two worked side by side for some time, thus producing a conflict in Jesus' activity framework. Another source of debate is the year of Jesus' birth. There is no certain indication of the precise year of his birth. Matthew and Luke attest that he was born in the lifetime of Herod the great, while Josephus suggests he was born before the spring of 4 BCE. One difficulty that arises in Luke is the way in which the birth of Jesus under Herod is made parallel to the census of Quirinius. Quirinius was governor of Syria only from 6 CE onwards. Therefore, the information that Jesus was born both under his rule and under Herod involves a gap of at least ten years. Perhaps Luke deliberately and falsely harmonized two chronological details which were not compatible, or Luke was suggesting that there was a Roman census in the Judea of Herod the Great in which Quirinis played a rule. However, the debates all lead to one final results: it is impossible to discover the year in which Jesus was born, but the last years of the reign of Herod the Great are a possibility. Another area of debate is the age of Jesus' public activity. Luke suggests Jesus was around thirty years old, which is possibly based on the fact that David, Joseph and Ezekiel began their public career at the ideal age of thirty. The result of various debates is that Jesus' first public appearance falls in the period between 26 and 29 CE.
The death of Jesus is one final source of dispute. The week of month of Jesus' death is most finely discussed. All four Gospels agree in saying that Jesus died on a Friday. However, it is disputed whether this Friday was the day of rest of the Passover feast. According to the Synoptic version, Jesus died on the first day of the Passover feast. The last supper of Jesus and his disciples was a Passover meal, which was held in the night. According to Johannine chronology, the Friday on which Jesus died was the day of rest of the Passover, so in this year the Passover fell on a Sabbath. The final result is that the differences between John and the Synoptic version cannot be reconciled. However, the arguments for the Johannine chronology are weightier. The year of Jesus died is marked out by Pilate's time in office – Jesus must have died between 26 or 36 CE, with the year 30 CE seeming most probable.

Section 2: Reflection
This chapter was must easier and more interesting to read in my eyes. It was interesting to read the different sources of Jesus' time, and read debates from those who believed him to be born at a certain time, from those who believed him to have died at a certain time, and from those who believed he taught at a certain time. I do not know enough about the Biblical text to make accurate assumptions, but based on the reading I find their results are correct.
Studying Christ's chronological framework of life appeals to me far more than studying the history, though I understand that is important as well. You need to understand the history to accurately base your assumptions on the present. However, there is only so much evaluation of sources you can do before arguments become redundant. I believe the knowledge of Jesus' teachings and works are more important than the history. The time period seems irrelevant at times, but I find it fascinating that scholars centuries later are able to pinpoint his lifetime to a period of ten.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Fairy Tale

‘Arg! Is she ever going to shut up?’ A little thought in my head screamed. This armor really does absorb a lot of the heat and, while I’d never say this to her, being a lady and all, carrying her is getting a bit burdensome. She’s not quite as dainty as all those fairy-tale books say.
“So I want our room to have pink pillows, pink drapes, pink rugs, and a pink comforter. Is that ok with you, little poosh-kins?”
I grimace as my horse groans and stumbles. He, too, is protesting to the weight of my armor and the royal highness. Honestly, you’d think for someone who has been lying in a glass coffin in the middle of the woods for weeks would lose a couple pounds. ‘Umph.’ I mutter as I shift her in my arms. ‘Apparently not all princesses are as petite as they appear.
“Poosh-kins?” Out of the corner of my eyes I see her frown. “Poosh-kins, I don’t think your steed is as reliable as you said he was.”
“Not reliable?” I manage to wheeze out despite my crushing lungs. “What do you mean?”
“Well . . . it felt to me like he stumbled.”
“Yeah, well if you were carrying two hundred pounds of dead weight, you would, too.”
“Oh, pumpkin-face!” She giggles, shaking her deep ebony hair around her face. “You are a riot.” She smacks my chest, and the ringing sound of her hand against my metal armor resonates around the forest. My horse shies with fright at the sound. At least one of us has enough little strength left to move. “I’m sure your shining armor does get awfully heavy.”
‘I wasn’t talking about the armor.’ My little voice peeped up again. ‘How many big Macs did those dwarfs feed you while you were “homeless” in the woods?’
“So, honey-cake, where are we going on our honeymoon?”
“Well . . . if I’m alive when we reach the castle, I’d say . . .”
“Oh, please say Venice! Or New Zealand. Or Canada.”
‘Canada?” I thought to myself. ‘I think she suffered some brain damage from lack of oxygen in her metal tank. What was I thinking? Lifting up the cover and kissing her – she’s a total stranger, after all. For all I know she could have mono. My mother always did say, though, I was meant to be a rescuer, a knight in shining armor, the one who slayed dragons and saved damsels in distress. I guess I was just trying to honor my mother’s memory when I saw this . . . less-than-feeble looking damsel lying in her tomb. Curse my mother’s grave.
“Poosh-kins? Is your castle much further?”
“Uh . . .” My brain is starting to fog up a little. I don’t know whether it’s the complete and utter exhaustion making my muscles tremble, or whether the helmet she insisted I place on my head is cutting off my air supply, but either way I’m feeling a bit disoriented. I told her knights weren’t meant to actually wear helmets and that they were made for decoration only, but upon lifting her from her coffin, she stubbornly put her pale white hands on her hips and with her ruby-red lips said, “No. If I’m going to be rescued, I want to be rescued the right way.” The warning bells went off in my head, but I didn’t listen to them. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.
“Teddy-bear, I’m hungry. Can we stop and have some lunch?”
‘I think you’ve eaten enough lunches to last you twenty years.’ I thought wryly to myself.
“Oooh, hurrah! There’s a stream coming up. How terribly thirsty I am. This sure has been hard work. I think I broke a nail!” She gasps. Then she turns her head to look at me. At least I think it’s her head. I can hardly see out of the slits in my helmet and through the sweat pouring down in rivulets into my eyes. “But I’ll risk anything for true love.”
We finally reach the stream and she energetically hops off. Hard work, indeed. I slowly dismount, unable to feel my limbs. My horse attempts a step towards the water before collapsing in a heap. I quickly follow suit. When I come-to, my horse is standing nearby, drinking the water slowly, casting a weary eye towards the ‘princess’, who is delicately washing her hands in the water.
“Oooh, gross, a leaf! I need purified bathing water.” She turns to me. “Sweet-ums, you don’t have any lavender-scented soap, do you?”
I throw my helmet into the water, where I can see it sink to the bottom through the crystal-clear water. I walk towards my white steed and quickly mount.
“Poosh-kins? Poosh-kins! Where are you going?”
I urge my horse forward, and he eagerly crosses the stream. Perhaps he’s afraid she’ll latch onto his tail and follow us home.
“I demand an explanation!” Her whiny voice yells.
“Go back to the dwarfs, my darling Snow White. I don’t know how, but somehow they seemed to tolerate and admire you, building you that shiny-white coffin lined with gold to honor your apparent death.”
“They didn’t build that to honor my death, they built it as a birthday present, I think they said. I was never poisoned by an old woman either. They made the story up, though I can’t imagine why. Anyway, they made me a birthday cake, insisted it was all mine to eat, and the next think I know I wake up to find myself in a glass coffin and you leaning over me.”
My horse snorts and I laugh along with him.
“Farewell, my fair princess. Good luck.”
I cast one look behind me and I can see her red face fuming on the other bank. Then suddenly a man emerges, dressed in green tights and a hat with a hideous red feather sticking out. “Fear not, my fair maiden!” His booming voice reaches my ears. “I shall rescue you!”
“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” She rushes forward. “Wait a minute, where is your armor? PUT YOUR ARMOR ON!”
I see his look of shock and utter confusion. “Poor man,” I mutter as my horse and I gallop off into the sunset. “May God have mercy on his soul.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Answering those question Dr. Malesh posted

*What factors define the group (geography, age, interests, ethnicity, shared history, values, etc.)?
This community is situated in Ashland, Virginia and has a number of individuals ranging from the ages of 18-23 (sometimes younger if they are insanely brilliant or older if they are coming back to college). Our interests vary to religious, political, to environmental safety and animal rights. There's a place for people who like to do outdoor events, there's a place for people that like to write, and there's a place for people that like to swim. Ethnicity does not seem to matter, though since it is a private community it is predominately white. However, there still exists a mix of African-American and Asian, and also a mix of foreign-exchange students from around the world. Individuals in this community have a wide variety of backgrounds and do not share much history except for the fact that we have all completed high school and don’t relatively well.

*How did this community come into being? What is its history? How does that history shape current practices and attitudes?
The community of Randolph-Macon College came into being in 1825 when Methodists voted at their General Conference in Oxford, N.C., to consider founding a liberal arts college. It grew from a male-only college to a co-ed community. This history shaped its current practices into a more liberal-minded college. Most of the professors are extremely liberal and a number of the students are as well. There are some professors that are more conservative, however, and some students that tend to be more moderate, too. There's a nice mix without an individual feeling pulled either way.

*How do you gain membership to this community? Can anyone join? Is it by invitation only?
I gained membership by applying to this college. Not everyone can join – you have to be accepted. It does not require invitation – anyone can apply, but not everyone can get in, just like at any other college or university.

*What are the rewards/costs of membership?
The costs of membership are so incredibly, exceedingly high it's almost funny…but not quite. The rewards are an excellent education. But it still costs a lot to get into this community. And I do mean a lot. One of the greatest rewards is the ability to have a more personal relationship with professors, instead of simply being a number. The ability to work closely with colleagues and professors is a great asset to anyone with high academic yearnings. It was for this reason I came into this community and one reason I have stayed despite the rising costs.

*Describe any characteristic language practices of this community. Do members use special terms/language? Do they assign new meaning to terms?
Most of the individuals speak English in this community. They do assign new meaning to terms, such as "hot" really means sexy, or "idiot" refers to guys with popped collars. Some members speak foreign languages, such as Japanese, French, Spanish, German, but as the rest of the community rarely understands them, they politely speak English in most cases.

*What characteristics or “patterns of sameness” characterize community members (dress, rituals, behavior, values, etc.)?
There are various dress patterns in this community. One is the preppy group, with popped collars etc. They think they look really hot. They don't. Then there are the people that don't really care, wear gym clothes to class, then there's the casual dresser that looks presentable but not too classy, there's the pink and pearl dress group, and a few Goth stragglers in there too. Some rituals (mostly among immature male students) are getting drunk, trying to act "really hot", but in the end simply looking like they belong with a pack of wild baboons. There are a wide set of values in this community. There are some that believe very strongly in Christian morals (as seen in the Intervarsity Club), some that value writing (Washington Literary Society) or some that believe in the fundamental asset of community service (APO).

*What tensions/controversies/areas of disagreement exist within the community? How are these areas negotiated or represented to outsiders?
Most of the tensions, controversies, etc are club oriented. For instance, many clubs that were formed against the occupation go way overboard in their signs and it honestly gets a little annoying, whatever your political stance. Personally I know if I see one more stupid "STOP THE WAR" protest sticker on my windshield I sincerely feel my sanity might be at stake. Whatever my stand on the war is, whether I'm for or against it, I don't like people sticking crap on my car. Back on topic…
Other areas of disagreements are remodeling for disabilities, remodeling for cosmetic effects, *alleged but easily proven* catering to freshmen, or the possible installment of more treadmills in the Brock Center since certain already thin females take over them 24/7.

*How might definitions of this community differ if they were told by insiders and outsiders respectively?
This community might be defined as cliquish or preppy, since it is a private school. There are those that "pop" their collars, but the more down to earth people generally make fun of them. There are those girls that dress up to go to the gym, but once again, people are confused when girls primp in front of the mirror and put on fancy ball caps just to get sweaty. Both outsiders and insiders could view this community as cliquish or stuck up. However, not all members of this community are that way.

*How did you come to be a member of this community?
I applied to come here through an application. I filled out an application online and was accepted early enrollment. That is how I came to be part of this community. Some members are deeply dissatisfied with the community, but if people are truly that unhappy they should transfer instead of wasting their parent's money.2) Develop a THOROUGH AND COMPREHENSIVE understanding of your particular controversy. Take notes anpriorityte so that you are prepared to share your understanding of your controversy--and its intricacies--with my individually during Wednesday's class period.
I have refined my controversy more specifically, since Professor Malesh addressed the issue that it might be too broad. Instead of the general topic of the "American community" I have narrowed it down to the Randolph-Macon Community. I am specifically studying the stereotypes and stigmas that this community places on those that suffer from depression and this community's views on various treatment methods. For instance, many people believe only natural treatments such as herbal medicine and therapy should be allowed to treat depression. Others, however, find that since depression is a biologically chemical "mess-up", it should be fixed chemically as well. I wish to explore the dynamics of this community in relation to the topic of depression and how the community feels about various treatment methods.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Stolen Heart

This was a creative writing exercise in which we had to portray a character on some sort of quest. The character had to encounter some sort of mystical object on their quest and overcome it. We had a 550 word limit and I quickly reached that. She didn't say what exactly had to happen once the character succeeded in their quest, so I took some liberties...

The Stolen Heart

This was the feeling those weird mortals got when they lost their car keys. Except this hurt far, far more. It wasn't her car keys (in truth, she had never even seen a car) that were lost or her purse that was stolen, it was her heart. It happened seven days ago when King Imsohot came to her town to ask her father for her hand in marriage. Giselda now shook her full head of luxurious blond hair in disgust. In two days he had made her smile, in three days he had made her laugh, and in five he had made her fall in love. On the seventh day, she had opened her jewelry box, the one her mother had given her, to find the golden heart she placed there every night before she went to bed was gone. The charlatan had stolen it!
It was this event and these angry thoughts that fueled her on her path now, towards King Imsohot's castle. He had her heart, she knew it, and vowed to do whatever she needed to in order to get it back. He wasn't worthy of it anyway, she told herself while wiping away her tears. He was egotistical, snooty, and most of all very, very attractive, and he knew it. He had been in love with her until Cinderella has set her eyes on him, and then he had fallen for that insipid woman's amazing set of…glass slippers. He has then proceeded to leave Giselda for the woman's amazing set of…glass slippers, and had not returned even when Cinderella ran off with Prince Charming.
Giselda reached King Imsohot's castle by dusk and was glad to find he was gone on a "business trip", most likely trying to court Snow White. She met a troop of soldiers but quickly kung-fu-ed her way through them. She quickly made her way to the center of the castle, where she instinctively knew her heart would lie. She admired his fine tapestry as she made her way through, taking care to tear giant, gaping holes in them. She found the golden heart on a pedestal in the middle of the courtyard, the lone fixture in a sea of soft green moss. The sunlight glittered down on the pristine gold, causing her to squint against its glare. It was beautiful. It was home. Sighing with relief, she rolled her eyes and stepped forward. "The complete idiot, thinking I wouldn't get it back…" She muttered.
In an instant she was thrown on her back and her hand that had reached for the golden heart burned horribly. She let out a stream of curses and only stopped when a fairy appeared beside her. A very ugly fairy. Weren't they supposed to be delicate and beautiful and…certainly not grotesque?!
"Here's the deal, dearies," the fairy muttered. "All you have to do is answer this riddles."
Giselda desperately wanted to correct the fairy's grammar, but resisted. "Ok, what is it?"
"Single eye stitches clothes, Knits together all the woes."
Giselda stared at the fairy. "A crafty Cyclops?"
"No, it was a needle, but I have a manicure appointment, so go ahead and take your heart or I'll be late."
Giselda took her heart and ran after muttering "you need more than a manicure." That was when the fairy turned her into truffle in punishment that was eaten at dinner.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Style 1

Already posted this a week ago because I accidentally did it ahead of time but I'm reposting so Dr. Malesh doesn't think I didnt do it :)

The chapter Understanding Style begins with a series of contradictory quotes. George Orwell states, "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity." To Orwell, sincerity and honesty is writing is most important. It is vital to remain open and honest to your readers, else you are deluding them with falsity. However, Oscar Wilde takes an entirely different stand on the topic of style. He states, "In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing." In the eyes of Oscar Wilde, style can be created; it is not a natural gift. Style can override sincerity and replace it and yet still create a marvelous work. Perhaps style can even be so powerful the reader does not notice the lack of sincerity at all.The topic of this chapter deals with the issues of writing clearly and the fact that everyone has the potential to do so. Overly complex sentence structure and style began with the transition from Latin and French to English. Complex style was not solved for decades, and simplified style was not seen until Thomas Paine wrote his direct and simple Common Sense that proved uncomplicated style was just as powerful as flowery prose. Unclear writing is needless, for the same mission can be accomplished often in half as many words.There are many reasons for this unclear writing. Michael Crichton states that one reason is some writers believe the more difficult their style, the greater reflection of their deep thinking. This is clearly not an accurate belief, however, for often difficult styles simply make no sense and attract few audiences. However, the biggest reason for unclear writing style is our ignorance of how our audience reads our writing. Things that often seem crystal clear to us may be confusing to our readers. The importance of writing clearly has one vital purpose: "the more clearly we write, the more clearly we see and feel and think" (10).

Robert Frost's "Ghost House"

This is a paper I had to write describing a poem. I chose Robert Frost's "Ghost House" because he is one of my favorite poets ever and I had not really examined this poem before now. I wanted to learn more about it and found it to full of imagery and was very introspective.

The reader begins to understand and relate to the loneliness the speaker feels. At one time or another all humanity has experienced the loneliness the house exudes. Frost educes the image of the whippoorwill, a bird known for its nocturnal visits. The species is known for its invisibility among its habitation; an individual may not be able to see the bird but they can here its characteristic song. The nocturnal song of the Whippoorwill is almost sad in sound. The very fact that the bird sings at a time when most of the world sleeps speaks to its nature of loneliness. Frost's depiction of this bird in his poem accurately portrays the feeling of isolation the speaker feels. Frost also uses imagery to draw the picture of two spirits that haunt the occupant's property. The two ghosts scare the speaker like a childhood nightmare, but by the end of the poem he is sympathetic to their endless love. While they might tirelessly haunt the house and fields, they are not entirely alone in their burden for they have each other. The fact that the ghosts are together and have a bond that exists past death helps the speaker overcome his fear of spirits and realize something more important than fear; that love exists beyond death. The sorrow and uneasy fear of the first four stanzas is somewhat relieved by the final depiction of the companion spirits. Despite the fact that their names are erased by time and moss, their everlasting love creates a bond that travels across time.
Frost depicts in this poem the spirits that haunt our metaphorical ghost house, our own lives. We experience our own ghosts and our own forms of loneliness. All individuals have their own "ghost houses" with hidden secrets and spirits that haunt our subconscious. Frost's "Ghost House" is filled of images that exemplify sentiments of loneliness, sorrow, and despondency. The house Frost describes in the beginning of a poem contributes to the loneliness the speaker exudes. It is empty, bare, devoid of all company except the company of spirits that haunt the recesses of his home, as they haunt the recesses of our mind. "Ghost House" evokes the sensation of isolation, despair and a deep abiding grief. The loss of faith we feel does not necessarily have to be the loss of a loved one, it can simply be the cynicism many of us attain after childhood. Frost is able to understand and relate to the fact that life is not always carefree and simple, but that there is a myriad of emotions we are forced to sift through in our daily lives. We are all haunted by our own personal ghost houses. The eerie emptiness Frost depicts through his stunning imagery can be paralleled to the emptiness we experience in our own lives, with or without a literal "ghost house". There are some thoughts we push into the back of our minds until they are overgrown paths, covered with weeds, until we can no longer find them. We have figurative gravestones with names covered with moss, chipped and eroded from disuse. However, Frost suggests that hope not be entirely lost, that our ghost houses do not need to be lonely and haunted forever. For in the end, bonds of loyalty and trust can withstand death and despair, as they do with the speaker's two ghostly companions. Frost expresses in this poem his belief that a simple spark of hope can light the dark recesses of our ghost houses and expel the loneliness and despair we find in life.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Summary of Hacker article:

Diana Hacker gives a schedule of ways to write and research an excellent paper. One vital step in the process of writing a well-done research paper is to conduct accurate research. In writing a paper, one must also pose possible questions worth exploring. One can not write a thorough paper by asking questions that are not worth researching. A good step to pursue possible questions is to make sure your question is not too broad. It is important to narrow the question down, and also to make the question challenging enough instead of simply asking "What is obsessive-compulsive disorder?" Getting help in your research is also important. You can ask reference libraries, search the web using reliable web resources, or locating books consulting the library's catalog. Directories and archives such as government and new sites as well as online discussions may also prove to be helpful in a research paper. Encyclopedias can also be helpful, but Hacker suggests one should rarely use them in your final paper. Most instructors will expect you to rely on more specialized sources. Considering doing hands on field research also provides an individual with accurate, personal information. On a more personal level, if it's important to read the information you obtain with an open mind and a critical eye. One must be alert for signs of their own bias and the biases seen in text. One of the most critical aspects of research is to avoid plagiarism. One way to do this is to maintain a working bibliography, keeping a record of any sources one consults. Taking notes as you work helps avoid unintentional plagiarism. Keeping track of source materials can also serve towards this goal as well.

Summary of Behreus and Rosen article

The Behreus and Rosen article asks the question what is a summary? A simple definition of a summary is an accurate way to reveal to the audience that you understand the information. You are also able to compose it in a manner that is clear and defined. A summary is also a brief restatement "in your own words, of the content of a passage. This restatement should focus on the central idea of the passage." The authors believe that a good summary contains three vital qualities of brevity, completeness, and objectivity. The author's state that objectivity might be difficult to achieve in a summary since summarizing allows you to leave certain parts out and allows for your interpretation in other areas. Summaries are important – it is can excellent way to prove you understand what you are reading and it can also be useful to your audience. Some guidelines for writing a well-rounded summary are to read the passage carefully, re-read it to make sure you truly absorbed the information, write a thesis, begin a first draft, revise your summary and then complete your final paper!

J/ Choose the "controversy" you will be working with all semester. Write a one page, in-depth, detailed description of your controversy AND describe the characteristics of the community that you are examining your controversy as part of. This should be a community to which you belong.

One "controversy" that particularly sparks my interest is the topic of mental illnesses and stigmas attached to it. A question that such stigmas generate is how do certain communities view mental illnesses (i.e. depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive- compulsive disorders) and how do they treat individuals that suffer from such disorders? One community that deeply examines such individuals is the American community itself. The American society views people that suffer from depression with mixed feelings. Some individuals feel sympathetic, while others feel ambivalent; they simply do not understand the disease.
One facet of mental illnesses is its cure, namely in the form of medicine. Deep rooted controversies have centered on this area. Many celebrities, such as Tom Cruise, remain outspoken in their beliefs that chemical medicines are not healthy and not the "natural" way to cure a disease. Other, more scientifically grounded individuals, believe that certain illnesses such as depression have very real grounds in bodily chemical imbalances that can only be corrected through medically readjusting that chemical imbalance.
Treatment of individuals suffering from mental illnesses is also often viewed very differently. Many individuals do not seek help or treatment because they are ashamed or embarrassed to admit to someone that they are suffering from a mental illness. This stigma that one should be ashamed is a characteristic that the American community has placed upon its individuals, making them feel embarrassed to seek the treatment they so clearly need. Some individuals do not even know how to define or explain what they are feeling and therefore resist treatment.
American society has come a long way in reducing some stigmas placed on the area of mental illnesses, as seen by numerous commercials advertising help for depression, but as a community it still has a long way to go. Individuals with narrow-minds and incomplete ideals such as Tom Cruise must come to the realization that people seek treatment in different ways and certain treatments, whatever they may be, should not be penalized.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Awakening book review

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is one of my favorite books ever. We got in a debated argument about it in high school, an argument that keeps popping into my mind everytime I read the book (because I'm a dork and re-read books). It was centered on this quote:

"[Edna is speaking to Madame Ratignolle:] “I would give up the unessential [for my children]; I would give my money, I would give my life for my children; but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear, it’s only something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me."

There were some people in the class that felt a true mother should be willing to give up everything for her child, even her soul and her self. I ENTIRELY disagree. Edna was more than willing to sacrifice her body and life to pain in order to save her children, but she refused to give up her soul and her very being. I do not think it was selfish at all for Edna to want to hold this one thing to her and refuse to let anyone take it away. The self is a thing God gave to you and no one has a right to take it away, even your children. I admire and respected Edna, the main character, for standing up for what she believed was right.
Madame Ratignolle was apalled by Edna's statement, and that is because she is the paragon of a wife and mother. But she also can gain little respect from the reader because of her submissive attitude.
Many people also felt that Edna was a coward for killing herself in the end, but I think it was the only way she could escape with her soul. If she lived she faced giving it up for her husband and children. I do not think it was cowardly in anyway and believe Edna is one of the most respected heroines of great American novels.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Religion Paper

This is a summary paper for Religion class about the evaluation of sources in relation to the historical Jesus. The class I am taking is the Life and Teachings of Jesus. So far I think I'm the only non-religion major (the registrar's office made a mistake *surprise* and this course was a last minute substitute for an ethics course). Due to the fact that I am NOT a religion major, I'm a little lost at times..... but here's my paper anyway.

Section 1: Summary

This chapter addresses the issue of the sources of Jesus' life and its accuracy. Some believe that it is impossible to distinguish between authentic and secondary traditions, while counter arguments suggest though we may be uncertain if what individuals are saying can be attribute to Jesus, we can trust that the 'form' of Jesus' language is mostly accurate. We can be certain Jesus used wisdom-type admonition and proverbs, as seen in the Bible. Some individuals believe that the sayings tradition contains primitive Christian prophetic proverbs which were spoke in the name of the exalted Christ and can no longer be distinguished from the words of the earthly Jesus. Some traditions are confused between the exalted Christ and the Jesus that walked on this earth with his disciples. The miracle stories also present some intricacies in the evaluation of their sources. Some believe that in the narrative tradition miraculous motifs have overgrown historical recollection. Some miracle stories have overgrown the picture of Jesus. However, some of these recollection mistakes cannot be helped; the earliest Christian miracle stories were handed down within each community. Stories passed down from generation to generation inevitably tend to lose some accuracy or develop different motifs from what they started with. The historical Jesus was perhaps swallowed up by his myth. There is also the one-sided criterion of research into the historical Jesus. There are no reliable criteria for separating authentic from inauthentic Jesus tradition. However, Jesus tradition does have the potential to be historically plausible. One reason for this is partly because independent, separate sources correspond, thus giving weight to their arguments. There are three clear ideas of this evaluation of sources. One is the inevitable human capacity for error. As humans, we make mistakes. Two other self-evident ideas are the historical relativity and interpretive distance, both of which form the basis for historical skepticism and historical certainty that we can have in dealing with the sources.

Section 2: Reflection

This section was a little confusing to me with its terminology and lengthy arguments. However, the message I got from it was that the evaluation of the sources of Jesus Christ are very difficult to place at times. Because politics and religious differences in the time certainly lead to certain sections of the bible being left out, we are uncertain as to the exact history of the text. This means to me that there may be some vital parts left out of Biblical text. However, whether the sources are accurate or not is at times irrelevant. The major points, such as Jesus' words and teachings, are most likely accurate in their portrayal, and it is these red letters that are vital for religious learning and growth. A sentence that struck me as profound as "…we may also be confidence that just as people are not perfect enough to hand on the pure truth, so they are not perfect enough to distort it totally." This statement made me realize that while the origin of sources may be faulty as times, no one is perfect enough to destroy the truth of the historical Jesus in its entirety.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Another Topic

I'm actually thinking about changing my topic. I plan on doing some more research and thinking about it more before I finally decide.

Another topic that really interests me are stereotypes placed on mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety. A comment made to my friend recently by someone else seemed to represent a normal person with such conditions versus society and any stigmas it might place on such a person. Also, in movies or TV shows, they commonly place people with schizophrenia was murderers and cannibals, because they hear "voices" telling them to do so. This is a terribly big misconception that has intrigued me for awhile. Because of these media representations, people view mental disorders with aghast faces. This scenario can be in many communities, American society itself, or smaller peer communities, even the Randolph-Macon community, as seen by my friend and a comment made to her.

Just another topic I wanted to brainstorm....

possible Community Controversy topic

I've been thinking about my community controversy topic ever since class and have come up with a list of things, some better than others. The most prominent one was inspired while I was at the gym. I was looking for a magazine to read, and found it interesting that nearly EVERY magazine I found had SOME sexual tip or article relating to a sex topic on the cover. Times certainly have changed from only thirty years ago. My parents STILL say "they would never have shown that on TV in our day!"

Our society has certainly become more sexually-oriented than before; it's affected by magazines, the media, even peers. People are having sex younger, are more open about it, and those that do not participate in such activities remain very quiet about it. This seemed like an interesting topic to study to view how our society has changed so drastically in only a few decades. I believe it would be easy to find research material just running down the covers of magazines at a grocery store.

Yet another source of inspiration was a story a friend told me. She was with a group of friends and they played a game to see who had gotten frisky in the craziest place. She was the only virgin in the group and gracefully got out of the game because she was embarassed. I do not have all the details of her story, but the point is she felt embarassed to state a fact that is not embarassing, it is just society has made her so. I wrote a short narrative of the story with her permission for creative writing class and thought it would be interresting to connect an issue that has intrigued me to yet another class.

A newspaper article on the rise of STDs and AIDS also intrigued me as it correlates to the rising number of individiuals partaking in sexual activities these days. The health risks are a possible controversy I could study. More interesting to me, however, is how media and literature plays a role in influencing individual's views on sex before marriage etc. I think it would be interesting to study how people who do not regularly have "relations" feel about such media influence. Does it make them feel unworthy, unwanted, or out of the loop? Perhaps some do not have the opportunity, while others simply want to wait for marriage, as per religious beliefs, or other personal views.

The list of my other topics is interesting, but so far this idea seems to keep popping up in my mind as I watch the news, read a magazine, or listen to a conversation with a friend about her weekend.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Another Creative Writing Assignment

This was a creative writing assignment, in which we had to write a fictional story, beginning with 200 words, then cutting it down to 100 words, and then to 50.

She was a virgin. She had been for as long as she could remember. It wasn't that she was a prude, she certainly was not. She read trashy romance novels with half-naked lovers intertwined on the covers with the best of them. She had had her opportunities; she was a virgin by choice. Partly religious upbringing, partly old-fashioned beliefs that love should come first. It was with these feelings she stared with a deer-in-the-headlight look at the table before her. She was in a pub, studying abroad, getting to know the rest of the people on her trip. They had decided to play a game to see how had gotten frisky in the craziest place. All the sudden her purse became very interesting. Especially the bottom part of her purse. It was even more interesting with her head inside the purse. Despite her ostrich-like stance, it reached her turn. Perhaps it was nervousness that made her cold. Perhaps it was being cold that made her say what she did. When she blurted out "dungeon", she had the image of a cold, cold place full of nervousness. The group stared at her, half in bewilderment, half in shock. She wanted to hit her face with her purse that had so rudely abandoned her. A dungeon?! She had never even been in a dungeon.

She was a virgin. She had been for as long as she could remember. She had had her opportunities; she was a virgin by choice. Partly religious upbringing, partly old-fashioned beliefs that love should come first. She was in a pub, studying abroad, getting to know the rest of the people on her trip. They had decided to play a game to see how had gotten frisky in the craziest place. Finally, it reached her turn. When she blurted out "dungeon", she had the image of a cold, cold place full of nervousness. She wanted to hit her face with her purse that had so rudely abandoned her. A dungeon?! She had never even been in a dungeon.

She was a virgin. She had had her opportunities; she was a virgin by choice. She was in a pub, studying abroad, getting to know the rest of the people on her trip. They had decided to play a game to see how had gotten frisky in the craziest place. When she blurted out "dungeon", she had the image of a cold, cold place full of nervousness. A dungeon?! She had never even been in a dungeon.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Style Lesson 1

The chapter Understanding Style begins with a series of contradictory quotes. George Orwell states, "The great enemy of clear language is insincerity." To Orwell, sincerity and honesty is writing is most important. It is vital to remain open and honest to your readers, else you are deluding them with falsity. However, Oscar Wilde takes an entirely different stand on the topic of style. He states, "In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing." In the eyes of Oscar Wilde, style can be created; it is not a natural gift. Style can override sincerity and replace it and yet still create a marvelous work. Perhaps style can even be so powerful the reader does not notice the lack of sincerity at all.
The topic of this chapter deals with the issues of writing clearly and the fact that everyone has the potential to do so. Overly complex sentence structure and style began with the transition from Latin and French to English. Complex style was not solved for decades, and simplified style was not seen until Thomas Paine wrote his direct and simple Common Sense that proved uncomplicated style was just as powerful as flowery prose. Unclear writing is needless, for the same mission can be accomplished often in half as many words.
There are many reasons for this unclear writing. Michael Crichton states that one reason is some writers believe the more difficult their style, the greater reflection of their deep thinking. This is clearly not an accurate belief, however, for often difficult styles simply make no sense and attract few audiences. However, the biggest reason for unclear writing style is our ignorance of how our audience reads our writing. Things that often seem crystal clear to us may be confusing to our readers. The importance of writing clearly has one vital purpose: "the more clearly we write, the more clearly we see and feel and think" (10).

Persuasive Essay

Audience: Dr. Malesh and Whoever Else Reads This

It is inherently impossibly to teach somehow how to be a good writer. It is possible to enhance on someone's natural writing ability and improve their technique, but it is just that: a natural ability. [It is not a talent or a desire that can be enforced.] If someone has a natural inclination to write they will most likely know it by their own means. For instance, a person may begin writing when they are very young. Or they may develop an inclination to write later in life, but the end result is the same: the inclination to write and write well must be developed within their own selves. Simply because a professor says "write" does not mean they will be a good writer. All it means is that they will form words together haphazardly.
[Writing must come from the heart, unaffected by others views or attempts at "teaching" you to be a good writer.] If writing does not come from the heart it is not sincere. True works, whether fiction, non-fiction, or poetry, must be sincere. This is one reason James Frey's novel "A Million Little Pieces" has garnered so much controversy. As a nonfiction novel, the public wants to read truth and honesty. If they read a memoir they want actual events that are not fabricated. If the author is not honest and sincere to them, the audience does not trust the work they are reading. This in turns leads to less respect for the work. If a writer wishes respect from an audience, the writing must come from the work, and be reliable and the author trustworthy. An audience is not going to read a work of an author that has lied to them.
[Writing must equally result from values and character.] Our values and beliefs make up our character and enable us to follow certain paths and stay away from other paths. These values and character must come from the heart, they cannot be taught in any writing class. If values are taught then a writer becomes falsified and less honest in the eyes of his or her audience. You cannot teach someone to follow certain values and beliefs, or else their work is not sincere. An individual must make their own mind up about their beliefs in religion, politics, and everyday life. "Teaching" someone values in writing is not teaching but rather forcing your beliefs on them. Writing should be about freedom not pressure to conform.
[Reason also plays a vital role in becoming a good writer.] Good sense and logic comes into play in the game of words as well. You must write what you feel the public wants to hear and what your own heart tells you should be written, but you must also apply good sense into the equation. If you want people to enjoy your work, you have to adopt certain attitudes. Reason dictates which style of writing is more preferable, however. Reason tells you that if you want to publish a great work for the masses, you must listen to their hearts as well as your own. You must write what they want to hear as well as writing what you wish to write. Given prompts can help you grow as a writer and learn new techniques, but in the end the writing is at your end of the pen, not a professors. Good sense and reason helps keep one's writing in a direct relationship with tasteful writing that others will appeal to.
[Some fallacies about the nature of writing are that it is not difficult.] If anyone has an honest desire to write and write well they will know this statement cannot be further from the truth. Writing is difficult and can be as taxing as arduous physical labor. Walter Wellesley Smith wrote, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein." His sardonic statement is so honest and accurate it sums up an entire emotion and passion in one sentence. He is suggesting that writing involves "nothing more" than pouring out your blood on paper. It is essentially making you vulnerable to other people, opening up your emotions and thoughts and allowing others to review or criticize them as they choose. It's a risk, opening up your vein, but one writers with a passion feel a desire to do, however masochistically.
Physician and writer Somerset Maugham wrote, "The best style is the style you don't notice." This statement accurately illustrates the fact that style and talent cannot be taught. The best style is "the style you don’t notice" – it is the best for the simple reason that it is the style that comes naturally. If someone forces a certain style on you, you cannot grow and expand with it and it therefore is no talent at all. Maugham continued, "A good style should show no signs of effort. What is written should seem a happy accident." If someone forces you to be a good writer, they are forcing a style on you that is not your own. If the style does not belong to you, it is not natural, and therefore will not seem to come easily, as a "happy accident."
Essentially, writing is not a gift or an entity that can be taught in a classroom. Writing is a deeply personal experience, and must come from the heart to be sincere. It must also be entwined with good reason and a sense of individuality. A writer must contain their own beliefs and values into his or her work, or else it will not be their work, but the work of whomever's beliefs and values they are adopting. To be a valuable work, it must be honesty and often in some way make the writer feel exposed. If they do not share a part of themselves in their work, it is not theirs at all.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


Summary of Bellah article

Community, commitment, and individuality is ever-present in American society. Les Newman, an evangelical Baptist, states that "American society is becoming very self-oriented, or very individual-oriented: what's in it for me, how much do I get out of it, am I getting everything I'm entitled to in my life?" As Americans we are becoming more and more aware of our goals and ambitions and what we want out of life in general, whether it may be simple happiness and contentment to great fame and success. However, self-oriented does not necessarily mean we are self-centered, for Americans are also increasingly becoming active in community service projects. "For all their doubts about the public sphere, Americans are more engaged in voluntary associations and civic organizations than the citizens of most other industrial nations" (87-88).
One prime example of how we are becoming increasingly active in the American community is Angelo Donatello, a man who eventually became a civic leader in a suburb of Boston. His strong Italian heritage and his reluctant concern for the ethnic heritage rooted in his family finally led him into public life. Donatello states one of the things that got him involved in politics was the fact that he was confused. He came from strong Italian roots but was also very Americanized. He and his siblings were more liberal than their parents and were able to express themselves differently. He became involved in the Sons of Italy – a community that he had almost forgotten. Abandoning one type of individualism has led Donatello the ability to lead a life towards civic individuals that entailed care for the affairs of his community. He became an American without becoming entirely "Americanized".
Yet another example is Cecilia Dougherty, whose communities of memory have played a part in her political commitment. Dougherty had become an active member of the Campaign for Economic Democracy, her activeness being catalyzed by the traumatic death of her husband. She was once approached by a colleague of her husband and when asked about herself she began telling tales of her children and home life. The woman immediately stopped her and said she "I didn't ask about your children, I asked about you. Where are you coming from?" Dougherty then realized that individualism is a personal experience and can exist outside traditional roles such as a home wife. Her sense of community and individualism came from building decisions on the past, instead of choosing to ignore it. This led her to develop a new sense of efficacy and a deep sense of identity that lead her to be involved with the labor movement. Her interested in the labor areas had foundations in the events of her father, an Irish Catholic immigrant, going on strike.

Summary of Kirp article

Whatever community we belong to, their always seems to exists differences in individual preferences, in beliefs and values, and connections to the past and thoughts to the future. Kirp recognizes the importance of these differences and how they create community tensions. Because communities and individuals are both dynamic and never chance, it is not a problem that can be solved with a simple solution but instead must be flexible with the changes in time and individual beliefs.
An example Kirp uses is the study of every day students in a school. Some students at the end of the day become isolated, while others becoming deeply involved in community. Others seek freedom while others do not. Commitment and individualism seem to be increasingly important to all groups in American society. Kirp takes an examining looks at the nature of community and its role in shaping our identities, both as individuals and as a whole society. The students in the plaza differ into two simplified groups. The engaged citizen and the solitary self. The common life and the life of privacy. The group that desires consensus and the group that desires dissent. Each extreme of the spectrum has their own positive and their own negative sides. It are these differences that cause community tensions.

A list of some communities I consider myself a part of are small, causal, honest, and sensible groups. I enjoy smaller groups where you can become closer to the individuals and learn more about them as a person as opposed to as a number or a face you will forget. This is one reason I decided to come to Randolph-Macon College, for it provided that small, intimate atmosphere that is not found at larger colleges. I also believe that to become truly involved on an emotional level, you have to be casual and honest, overdone formality can impede on sincerity. Some values and interests I am beginning to embrace on my own is a deep sense of independency and following my own interests. I have always been very family oriented and believe I have no always been able to exert my independency. I have recently begun doing things that are as not "comfortable" to me in this search for independency. I have also begun to pursue things that I enjoy, instead of doing things I know I should do to create future success, etc. For instance, I had dreams of being a wildlife worker but found the Biology major was not for me. Some would have called it quitting but I believed switching to English major was something I wanted to do. I want to be a writer and while this may be impractical it is something I wish to do. I realize it is a competitive world but it is what I enjoy so I am going to pursue it. These are some reasons I have pursued literary groups on campus. My values of my peers is mostly noncommittal. I do not care what people do in their own time as long as they leave me to pursue my time as I wish. However, I do have opinions. I think this school may at times be too Greek oriented and that certain groups are stereotypical, such as "popped collars." But then again, that is what some individuals like, I just prefer to be relaxed and casual and be myself.


If "I" were a neighborhood, comprised of different houses with residents of them which represent the different communities that I consider myself part of, I believe I would look like one confused neighborhood. I have so many different opinions on so many different things, opinions that are often strong but not close minded. However, I have enough common beliefs to add order to my neighborhood. One such community on this "Me" street would be a very small, intimate community. I think it is easier to maintain order and unity in smaller numbers. I have always had a few close friends rather than a large group of individuals as friends, a fact that I would not change if I could do things over. If there is dissension or various beliefs in a group, it can be more readily solved or handled in small numbers. I do not feel comfortable in large groups – one often feels like their voice is simply not heard in such instances. This community is very open despite its small side, however. As long as they hold the other three characteristics of casualness, honesty, and sensibleness.
Casualness is very important as a community on this street as well. This does not mean that one needs to wear sweatpants and ratty t-shirts in this community. "Casualness" in this community simply means you abide by what your heart tells you is right, and do not necessarily need to follow strict forms of tradition and rules. There are rewards of joining such a community – you can be open with yourself and others far more easily if you are casual and not hampered by strict formality. Many people like these strict formal rules, however, and tensions may arise. There will always be dissension in all areas of life, it cannot be avoided.
Honesty above all else is a key community of this street. Honesty is a personal belief I value very highly. To me, if a person is not honest with themselves or another person, you can never rely or trust on them. If a person is not dependable, they are worthless in a community. If they insist on back-stabbing, gossiping, and unreliability, then they are not worthy of being in any type of community. The rewards of honesty reach far beyond present moments. They extent into the future: honest people create honest, steady communities. Unreliable, dishonest people create buildings on faulty foundations.
Sense is also a vital community. Reason and sense provide a common sense. Common sense is important because it teaches you simple morals, the difference between right and wrong, and what should and what should not be done. Common sense is an easy path to creating a strong, honest, worthy group in a community. Sense leads to intelligence, which can exist not on mere academic levels but in areas of emotional intelligence as well. Emotional intelligence is incredibly underrated. Being able to sympathize and act like a decent human being is part of maintaining a decent level of emotional intelligence. If one is not a decent human being they are likely to be unethical in their leadership skills or in every day activities. These characteristics of sense, honesty, casualness and small size are important in my neighborhood.

Friday, February 10, 2006

In Her Shoes

I had heard very mixed reviews about the movie In Her Shoes and was very intrigued to watch it. It was beautifully made and really hit home on certain points for me. My sister and I are polar opposites. She is outgoing, open, and often loud. I can be loud but I am reserved and not as open with my feelings. She's a therapist, I'd be a therapist's worst nightmare, as she says.

One of the points of the film that especially moved me was when Cameron Diaz read her sister a poem at her wedding. It was the poem I carry your heart with me by e. e. cummings. A lot of people have trouble understanding or enjoying e. e. cummings but I find his style and unique sentence structure intriguing. I don't like rhyming, I HATE rhyming, I think it is insipid and overdone and very rarely creates a good poem (with the obvious exception of Robert Frost), and this poem exemplifies what can be done without the childish toy of rhyming.

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

I don't like to cry, and I don't like to cry in front of people, which I why I didn't cry at this point because my mom was watching it with me. But it moved me to tears because it made realize that while my sister and I fight a lot and sometimes rarely get along, in the end we are sisters and that bond is strong enough to last anything, as seen in the movie. My mom and I rarely have "girl moments", so it was nice to watch a movie with my mom, but I wished I had watched the movie with my sister. It made me realize that bond of love that exists between sisters can traverse anything. It is more powerful than a romantic love, it is a love of friendship, the kind of love that comes to you at 3 A.M from three hours away, the kind of love that helps you through a rough spot, the kind of love that makes mistakes. The movie was powerful in the fact that it made me realize I wouldn't trade my sister for the world.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Secret Agent

We are reading The Secret Agent by Joseph Conrad in 20th Century British Literature and today we were asked what we thought. I'm not a fan of Joseph Conrad and have not liked many of his short stories or novels that I have read in the past. One of his novels I read in high school was Heart of Darkness, possibly his most famous novel in his writing career. It was intruiging and has startling imagery, but I think a writer can become too involved with imagery and overdo it. Dr. Peyser suggested that one of the reasons The Secret Agent is so well written (in his opinion) is due to the fact that every sentence is elaborate in vocabulary and stucture and thereby captures its audience. If it captures me at all, it is only a capture similar to that of a fish caught in a net. Wanting to get out.

One such elaborate sentence states, "A guilty-looking cat issuing from under the stones ran for awhile in front of Mr. Verloc, then dived into another basement; and a thick police constable, looking a stranger to every emotion, as if he, too, were part of inorganic nature, surging apparently out of a lamp-post, took not the slightest notice of Mr. Verloc." It is a well written sentence, but when each sentence is written in this manner it become tedious to read. And quite honestly I got a headache from reading it. Although that could have had to do something with running on an elliptical machine while reading.

So far, in comparison to this novel, I preferred Heart of Darkness. Honestly, the only reason Heart of Darkness (a dubious book of its own), is more appealing than this book is because it had the imagery of shrunken heads attached to poles guarding a house. It was a grotesque image and the only one I remember from the book but it nonetheless captured my interest. I normally love British literature but this book made me remember I do not love all types. I love the classics, yet I hated Great Expectations, which is a classic most people adore.

While reading reviews for the book The Secret Agent I accidentally stumbled across a complete summary and the ending sounds just as boring as the beginning. However, perhaps around chapter ten it will turn "fascinating and stimulating", or perhaps it will be like Tess of D'urbervilles, which held no fascination for me until the last ten pages. My plans are to get ahead and try to finish The Secret Agent this weekend and get it over with. Sometimes enduring great amounts of pain all at once can be easier to deal with than spacing it out.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Descriptive Essay for Creative Writing Class

I had just thrown up, so the cold sea breeze felt sinful against my flushed face. My sister in law later asked what my favorite part of Ireland was and when I told her the ocean, she exclaimed incredulously, "But we have that in America!" I clumsily explained it was "rockier." I'm not very comfortable at expressing my emotions, but what I meant to say was that the ocean waves sing an entirely different song that the waves on the shores in America do. What I meant to say was in Ireland you can breathe. There's something dangerous and mystical about seeing jagged cliffs drop abruptly into the ocean below, breaking the surface with ragged fingers. There's something calming, soothing – peaceful about standing on the Irish shore, a something that comforts the homesick traveler, that nourishes the homeless man, that shelter's the jaded soul.
It was cold, but I liked the cold. It teased apart my hair with gentle hands and froze my ears with its icy breath. I didn't complain, though. The unceasing breeze cooled my cheeks and cleared my head. Jade green fields with cottages cozily nestled amongst them stretched to the right. The sea foam created a layer of mist off the ocean surface that left little kisses of moisture and dampened my clothes. The serenity of it tickled the back and my neck and the tips of my ice-chilled fingers.
I've traveled before, seen the sights of London and taken a spiritual safari in Africa. But I fell in love that day with a country I hardly knew and a country that hardly knew me. And yet I felt that I had been in love with this green, magical country long before this day. I felt I had crossed three thousand miles from my family and my house and reached a pinnacle: I had found a new home.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

J/Discuss your experience with writing. How do you understand yourself as a writer? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What are your writing techniques/process (i.e. Do you do any prewriting? Are you are compulsive drafter? Do you wait until the last minute? Do you use paper or a computer to compose? Do you follow any formulas for writing?)

My experience with writing started when I was little. I was always writing something, short stories, really short stories, or even writing endearing inscriptions on my walls. My first story was about a squirrel named Nutty and a caterpillar named Rosie that were best friends and lived in a house together. My dad threw it out ("accidentally") and I was devastated. Chances are Rosie would have gotten stepped on anyway though, so he was most likely saving me from heart ache. My strengths in writing are creativity and enthusiasm. I have plenty of ideas in my head and am always itching to write them down. I am easily inspired and if there's a blank piece of paper in front of me chances are I'll write something on it. Some of my weaknesses are filling out stories. I can write a story that’s longer than a short story but shorter than a book. I have problem "fluffing" stories. I am too critical of my work, also, but I believe all writers or artists are too critical of themselves. They will never be satisfied with their work. It will never be truly finished. I usually do not do much prewriting, which I realize is not proper writing etiquette. I jot down a few ideas, get an image in my mind, and then simply start. I do not have an organized outline of where my story or poem should go: I simply write it. I am a compulsive drafter because I am a perfectionist in my writing but I hate drafting, which is why it takes me awhile to get a story complete. I do not wait until the last minute because cramming stresses me out. I like to be prepared for most things, but would not go so far as to say I do things way ahead of time. I use a computer to compose longer essays simply because my hands cramp up and I can type much faster than I can write. If I am writing poetry, most of the time the idea just comes to me and I don't have access to a computer so I scribble it down on whatever portable service may be near me. I follow no conscious formulas for writing. Most often the idea sporadically comes to me and I write it down and there is the final work, or not so final work.

J/ Describe your expectations for this class. What do you expect this class to be? What is influencing your perceptions of this class? What do you want to leave this class knowing? What are your goals for the class? What are you looking forward to in the class? What are you nervous about? What is the most important change you want to see in yourself of your writing that you think this course could foster?

My expectations for this class are essentially to gain practice. The more you write the more you learn. I hope to learn to exercise better grammar, better sentence structure, even gain inspiration for stories or poetry. I expect this class to teach me to gain experience. I hope to also gain confidence in my writing. So far it is hard for things to influence my perception of this class since we just started, but so far teaching style and open mindedness and amiability of other students influences me the most. I want to leave the class with more confidence and knowing how to more accurately present myself in my writing. My goals for this class are to listen to other people's idea and get some inspiration from other sources. I am looking forward to writing and improving my "talent" in this class. Writing anything gives you practice and that helps improve any talent you may have. I am nervous about sharing my writing with other people; especially poems I feel are very good (I only have a few I like). If people criticize those few poems harshly it would not make me feel happy. The most important change I want to see in myself of my writing that I think this course could foster is confidence. I am confident in some aspects of my writing and not in others. I want to improve my ability and talent in those weaker areas and thus hopefully improve my confidence.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006