November 30, 2004

South of North: Journey to Mexico

Hola, senors, sonoras, and senoritas. No, I haven't become fluent in my five days in Mexico and Arizona, but I have been away. Really away.

For those that don't know what I was doing read this entry to get a little refresher.

This afternoon I crossed the United States in about seven hours, and came in my bedroom feeling like I stepped out of one life and into another--one where I knew where everything was kept. So similar, yet so different. Though this feeling may be partially attributed to jet lag, I will note that something has changed in me. I saw things that I never knew happened so close to home, things that should never happen.

As for the play-by-play of days, I will sum up pretty simply. We stayed in Bill and Fayth McConnell's home in Rio Rica, Arizona, the majority of the time. On the first full day, we began making care packages for the women's prison and orphanages in Mexico.

So what are "care packages"? I could tell you each and every item inside one (I made A LOT: our group of nine made about 900 in a day), but overall they are little gifts like shampoos, pencils, tablets, socks, and everything else that might be given from other groups, stuffed into Ziplock baggies which will be distributed as Christmas presents.

While working in Arizona, I kept thinking that it must be really bad for someone to get excited about some hotel shampoos and a pair of socks. And it was.

The first time we went into Mexico, we walked across the border to a small marketplace in Nogales. Our group was so fast making care packages, that we had some leisure time shopping. I have never been in such a scary shopping situation in my life. We split apart into three groups, the men scattered throughout each group (as an independent woman, even I thought this was necessary), and stuck close--well, except for the time I...oh, I'll go into that later.

Anyway, the bargaining begins. The fine art of haggling. When you go into a shop on a border town they have everything in abundance, except patience for the customer. If one is going to buy something, you are to buy it quick. I felt like I was at an auction in fast-forward.

I wanted to buy a few things for my family here, and friends at school, and well, this is no easy feat for a person that likes to deliberate upon purchases for at least fifteen minutes per item. I do think that I overpaid at certain booths, but overall I think I got some pretty good deals on pots, bracelets, and necklaces, not to mention my new cactus Esteban, (I acquired him at the airport).

As for the scary shopping, Katie, my cousin in-law Becky, and I went into this shop (more like a lean-to) and were looking at the bracelets and hair clips. Two Mexican guys that were running the shop came up to us and started asking if we were sisters. Because Katie didn't want to say more than she had to, she said we were sisters. We all went along with it, but they started shepherding us into a corner. Katie said she had to go see if my mom would let her buy a clip, and promptly exited the lean-to; Becky and I followed.

Eventually we all had our get-out-of-a-sale phrases. Mine was: "No, I'm just looking. Thanks, anyway."

Sometimes--no, most times--this didn't work, and the thing that I was looking at would be clutched in the merchant's hand as he walked down the street following me to the next store. Stalkers. But sometimes this can be a good thing. When they see you walk away, they usually give you a better price.

I even got a glass squirrel. This is turning into an international obsession.

Speaking of plush obsessions, Rainbow Hector was safe, and he even had some fun posing with this cactus, looking pretty posh in his sombrero.

hectorinsombrero.jpg

I did get lost once when we were shopping. I was looking at some bracelets, and everyone disappeared. The shopkeepers kept asking me questions as I searched for my group; with every step, I knew they were getting farther away; every moment, I was closer to being stuck in Mexico, living in a shack with the three dollars I had left in my bag. I was finally rescued from the cutthroat merchants by my pastor and then the group. Sheepish me.

Soon after, we met and left Mexico. After being search at the border crossing, I was never so happy in my life to see the stars and stripes sitting beside the x-ray machines.

The next day, we went into Mexico to spend time at the Open Bible church; the guys from our group painted and helped do maintenance work there while the ladies made packages in Arizona. Our church affiliate has a compound there, and that was about the ONLY time I felt safe in Mexico.

At the church, a daycare is sponsored. On the day we visited, there were about 15 to 20 children there. My sister, Katie, is using her experiences in Mexico as a platform for her high school graduation project, and she made a craft with popsicle sticks.

What a challenge! Not knowing an inch of Spanish, we used our hands as guides, frequently pointing and making sweeping motions that probably made the Mexican children think that Americans really like sign language.

While visiting the church, we got our photo taken several times, and while taking one group shot, I felt someone stroke my forefinger, and hold it very tightly. I didn't see who it was until after the picture was finished, and all the children had returned to the play equipment--all save one: Anita.

About five years old, she is a small, delicate little girl. I picked her up, and she wrapped her legs around my waist, and clung to my neck. She has brown eyes, and unruly straight hair that did not want to stay in its pony tail. When I sat down and tried to let her go and play, she would not let go. I thought she was just being funny, but while talking with a daycare worker, I found out that she was abused by her mother; I held her tighter.

When it was time to leave the mission, I gave her a kiss on the cheek, and dropped a few tears in the sand. It is so easy to love them. You hold one close, and they take your heart. I wanted to cry even harder when I had to practically pry her legs from my waist. I wanted to just hold her there. I was even running scenarios through my head--maybe I could have a kid and still go to school, but no...

After that experience, all I really wanted to do was go back to Arizona and cry--maybe sort out my emotions or something. We still had lots to do, though.

We visited the men's rehabilitation ranch. They grow CACTUS! On the ranch they have dorms and kitchens. They wash their clothes outside on a stone. It was a crazy mix of the old and new. A cement mixer next to a chicken coop church. Let me tell you...

Then we went to the women's prison. We were stamped by a beefy guard before we entered the steel doors. I kept hoping that I wouldn't sweat the stamp off. They must use really good ink because the visitor seal still brands my wrist after about ten soapings.

We met the prisoners in an open area that had plastic furniture. While you might think that the desert is always toasty, the temperature that day was about 30 degrees. And we were on lawn furniture. :-D We sang songs, and shared our testimony about being a Christian, and I broke down when it was my turn. Their strength amid everything... A Mexican prison is not like in America. They can keep you as long as they want, and can keep you a year before even sentencing you. They have such strength that I can only attribute to God, because I know that what we have here is not enough. The ironic fact is that we were to uplift them, and instead, they brought strength to us, the visitors.

I only went into Mexico two times, and surprisingly, I was thankful. Mexico--the real Mexico--is not Cancun, the resort cities. The Mexico I discovered is shacks. With a few pieces of wood here and there and some castoff aluminum, one would have a pretty nice home in the border towns I saw. I don't intend to make light of the situation either. When you see the poverty firsthand, you lose the numbness; it is replaced by awe and pity.

When we were headed back to the States, I saw a drunk man being stripped of his jacket by a woman in 30-degree weather. I saw young men waiting in the hills to charge the U.S. border gate. I saw a drug-detecting dog pee on a tire. I saw so much.

Then I breathed when we got the green light to pass into the gate. Into America. We are so lucky to be United States citizens. I can't stress that enough.

And I do not regret one minute of missing class or my life here. I mean, I love my life and everyone in it, but I know that if or even when I am ready to take on something like this again, I will go.

This blog is rather personal, and I hope that you will comment with a certain respect to what I have said. I don't bare my soul often, and I am hesitant even to post this, but I have, and I know that what I have written is honest.

Mexico, I've learned, is just another homeland of mine; it is spanse on the map I will return to someday by plane, but for now, everyday in memory.

Just a little F.Y.I.: I have never eaten so well in my life. I checked the scale and I did gain three pounds. The tacos, quesadillas, rice, beans, and everything else was TO DIE FOR. We ate Fayth's cooking and restaurants, too. I don't think I will ever go to Taco Bell again.

In an amazing twist of turkey fate, I did have the traditional delectable meat for Thanksgiving. Fayth, angel that she is, made our group a 22-pound turkey dinner, complete with the trimmings, when we arrived in Arizona on Thursday night.


Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:35 PM | Comments (21)

November 24, 2004

Hola! I think.

I am off to Mexico in a few hours. Packed and ready to go. I will try to update if I can, but I don't think I will be able to...who knows? The bloginator will perhaps NOT blog over a holiday. :-D

Have a great Thanksgiving everyone. Missing you already.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:01 PM | Comments (2)

November 22, 2004

Temporary insomnia

When I should be sleeping, I am the most productive.

This evening I wrote three papers, critiqued another, washed laundry, and finally created "the list" for everything I have to pack for Mexico. Look, I'm even writing a blog!

The Mexico anticipation is just delicious.

The part I am looking forward to most is the flight. I absolutely love to fly. The best flying is at night when you can see the stars and the lights of the cities below. Takeoffs are fun too. Like I said...I love to fly.

The worst flying experience I had was during a band trip to Florida. We got stuck in this monsoon-type storm and the plane was shaking, but I was watching Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, so it didn't really get to me--just the opposite--it made the movie even better--the sound effects were immediate. Kind of like an I-MAX or a Disney ride, but better.

Anyway, when I compiled my list of everything I need to bring, I realized that I am a pretty high-maintenance woman. Everything from socks to eyeliner. Sheesh. Never fear, friends, I didn't list a suit. :-D

Okay, the sleepiness is settling in...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:21 AM | Comments (3)

November 21, 2004

Stifle a cheat: 50+ Word Fic

With her breast plastered against the steering wheel, her ears unfazed by the horn blaring behind her, she saw him in their new car with his new blond, smiling at her going the opposite direction. Her light was green. Yeah, she knew it, but nothing at that moment, not even the shame of the horn-happy yuppie, could make her foot move to the gas pedal. She closed her eyes, felt his hand linger on her shoulder, then gassed her car into his.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 12:22 AM | Comments (2)

November 19, 2004

Presenting the pages

Have you ever seen a painting that shows every facet of a scene--the detail meticulous in the presentation of every object in the setting? How about one that accentuates one area of the canvas, and not the rest, heightening that part of the painting?

Now try that concept to a piece of literature: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn--the one with the meticulous documentation, in this case of issues such as slavery and morality, and "The Yellow Wallpaper" abstract in other areas--except one--feminism.

So that is the basic premise of my research paper for American Literature. The issues that I discuss are not the important part; it is that I want to restrict each work to that standard.

**Beyond this point, I may use language which may be deemed offensive. This language is not a reflection of my own beliefs, but rather a reflection of the works I discuss.**

The topics I discuss are: description, point-of-view, and dialogue of each work.

Description
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Slavery: Description of Jim: "Miss Watson would sell him south, sure. Well, he was right; he was most always right; he had an uncommon level head, for a nigger." --Typical of the era --Condescending--thinking the whites superior
  • Morality: Huck's Struggle: "People would call me a low down Abilitionist and despise me for keeping mum--but that don't make no difference." --Typical of the era --Huck's internal struggle: "not on principle or the wrongness of slavery in general, but...Jim's friendship" (Bollinger)

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

  • Description of the room: "big, airy...the windows are barred"
  • Description of the wallpaper:
    At night in any kind of light, in twilight, candle light, lamplight, and worst of all moonlight, it becomes bars! The outside pattern I mean, and the woman behind it is as plain as can be. I didn't realize for a long time what the thing was that showed behind, that dim sub-pattern, but now I am quite sure it is a woman.

    --Imprisoned woman of the era, encased behind the bars of marriage. (Davidson)
    --Traditionally and appropriately read in a social, particularly feminist, context (Suess).

Point-of-View
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and "The Yellow Wallpaper"--both written in first-person

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

  • Slavery: "It was fifteen minutes before I could work myself up to go and humble myself to a nigger--but I done it, and I warn't ever sorry for it afterwards, neither."
    --Condescension in association with Jim. White superiority displayed in the viewpoint expressed.
    --American view at the time
  • Morality: Would have been "moral," according to society's standards for Huck to turn in Jim, but instead he decides that the real moral thing to do is to be Jim's friend--demonstrated after he is captured:
    "Then they come out and locked him up. I hoped they was going to say he could have one or two of the chains too off...I reckoned it war't best for me to mix in."

    --Jim is a "friend, protector, and surrogate parent" (Jackson).
    --Huck still keeps silent, even when the doctor refreshes the slavery morality: "I judged he must be a runaway nigger...the nigger might get away, and then I'd be to blame."

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

  • Juxtaposition of her thoughts after her husband and brother's concerning her condition.
  • Stating opinion on "dead" paper, the helplessness "What is one to do?"
    --position of women--"the terror [they] continue to associate with their vulnerability in love and marriage" (Day quoted in Davidson).

Dialogue
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Slavery and Morality: Huck tricking Jim in fog:
    When I got all wore out wid work, en wid de callin' for you, en went to sleep, my heart wuz mos' broke bekase you wuz los', en I didn' k'yer no mo' what become er me en de raf'. En when I wake up en fine you back agin', all safe en soun', de tears come en I soun', de tears come en I could a got down on my knees en kiss' yo' foot I's so thankful...En all you wuz thinking 'bout wuz how you could make a fool uv ole Jim wid a lie."
    --Jim understands mentality of white southerners --Jim explaining the "real" morality is that this is wrong to do

"The Yellow Wallpaper"

  • Dialogue between husband and wife: John says: "'You know the place is doing you good...and really, dear, I don't care to renovate the house just for a three months' rental.'" Then the narrator responds with: "'Then do let us go downstairs.'" Then he just takes her in his arms and calls her a little goose. UGH!
  • John is "[acting] as a policeman for, the constraining ideology of feminity" (Davidson).

Opposing Views
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Slavery most prevalent issue discussed, but not the only one:
    “If it were simply an anti-slavery novel, in the vein of many produced before the Civil War primarily by northeastern abolitionists, Huck and Jim could have just crossed the Mississippi, fled into the interior of Illinois, and gone directly to Canada (Jackson).
"The Yellow Wallpaper"
  • Feminism addressed primarily, however minute reference to class of the time: "It is very seldom that mere ordinary people like John and myself secure ancestral halls for the summer,” but the issue of feminism overshadows it, making it look as if this is the "normal life" of the bourgeois.
Conclusion
My conclusion, as usual, kind of stinks. I am prone to "mechanical wrap-up," and I don't really introduce an enlightening, last thought. Suggestions would be much appreciated.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:07 PM | Comments (0)

November 18, 2004

Overview:
Girl Meets World Fall 2004

Though this semester has been a little sparse on the What's-going-on-in-Amanda's-life category, my academic blogs have been flourishing.

Maybe I can give a little insight on what I was doing in each of the entries. I know not everyone has read the works I write about, but I was working with my blogging style a lot this time, attempting to make things my readers probably have not read, a little clearer. My target audience is not just English majors at Seton Hill University. While some of my entries haven't been commented upon, I assume because people are either busy or intimidated by the texts discussed to leave a comment, I am happy to see that my readers are trying to understand.

And now for the wrap-up:

Highlights of the best academic reads on
Girl Meets World:
  • Robinson's obsession with alcohol was the inspiration for this blog. Focused around the one element of alcohol, this blog is a great example of how I start a research project. I begin with one element and draw as much as I can from it. If nothing is there, I don't start from zero, but rather, have a better idea of what the author is trying to convey. This entry, despite the limited topic, does have the potential to be much more; perhaps one day when I am slamming my head into a desk with writer's block, I will return to this entry and be inspired.
  • In this entry about The Girl of the Golden West, I discuss Belasco's parallel to Mercutio's death in Romeo and Juliet. Though I still think that I demean Shakespeare in making this comparison, I also think it is at least reasearchable that both are plays. Is this a method that many dramatists use? What are the origins of this method in drama? This blog, though a bit late for writing my research paper, does pose some decent questions that could be researched in the future.
  • I think I am most proud of this blog. While I had already read Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper," I extrapolated on more than just the plot of the story like last time, and really analyzed a classmate's claims. Thanks to Puff for the compliment.
  • Drawing from my experiences with WCT, I tried to speculate about the absence of literary devices in Native American oral literature. This blog like many others this semester, has brought together histories of various groups, and was surprisingly applicable to these works.
  • In my entry about John Henry, I attempted to challenge Linda's claims. My comment on her blog got so long that I thought I really had something, making it into a blog of its own. With links to sources concerning this topic, I battled with technology versus humanity in American culture.
  • Isn't it funny? The two blogs that I work the hardest on: "The Yellow Wallpaper" and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn turn into my research paper. This blog I am sure, helped me in my search for a research topic. In this entry, I cited many incidents in the story, sort of asserting myself that I knew what the novel is all about, and that I could apply what I have learned. I also gathered opinions from my classmates and also highlighted some research, going into some depth about the novel's message. By the way...my research topic is on the how Gilman and Clemens portray their era of American society. More on that for Monday, November 22, 2004 when I present from my blog.


Highlights of the best Fall 2004 discussions on
Girl Meets World:

  • The John Henry blog continued the conversation between Linda and I about technology. Nabila also brought up some great questions about the meaning of the text.
  • Having read "The Yellow Wallpaper" twice I was ready for some discussion. Nabila, Karissa, Stephan and I all discussed together. I still don't know why Stephan doesn't like to be labeled a new critic, though. I think he has a problem with established literary authority. :-D
  • When discussing Native-American oral literature, Neha offered some suggested reading, and Stephan and I talked about the dialects of certain areas that we had talked about in class at that time.

Shall we move beyond my blog?
These are some of the best comments I have made on other blogs, mostly about literary works that I have been studying in American Literature 1800-1915.
  • On Linda's blog, I stirred up a bit o' trouble, opposing her views on the technological advancements of our age, as depicted in John Henry. The interaction eventually spilled over onto my entry on John Henry. In the absence of Crossman on the blogs, I am always looking for a combatant. Sadly, Linda didn't take the bait. :-)
  • On Fortune Cookie, I questioned a view in the entry, and was challenged to a researching duel by blogger, Puff. I think I taught him something about making uninformed assertions, though. :-) The best part about this discussion was that I was pushing another student to write something more than "this is what I think."
  • On Nabila's blog, I took up another viewpoint concerning "The Yellow Wallpaper": John's. Instead of taking the traditional view of the text, Nabila and I pursued John as a character, rather than just an entity of anti-feminism.
Out of the Blue
    Voting was a new experience for me. This was my way, as a blogger and journalist, to at least get some of my feelings out there for the online community to read. I think I sidestepped a lot of political phrasing in this blog, especially in the comments section where I gave reasons for my political silence. Thanks Curious, whoever you are, for giving me that platform!

So that's that. Hope you all enjoyed another scrapbooking session. Please come back soon, and blog safely. ;-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:49 PM | Comments (1)

Mexico Adventure (Anyone know Spanish?)

What is so odd is that when I should be staying home over Thanksgiving, my head firmly glued to books and my computer screen...I am not. I will be in Arizona--crossing the border into Mexico.

And I have to say that this religious retreat to a mission in Nogales couldn't have come at a better time. I am approaching my scholastic breaking point, and this trip will perhaps separate me from the mountains of work that lie in Greensburg, PA quite literally.

Don't get me wrong, I will be doing work on the plane and will ask the missionary for internet access when I can. A student--a worker--is what I am.

When my mom returned from her trip, I knew I would go the next time.

My mom, Katie, my sister, and I are going with a group of about 10 people from my little church.

The best part of the trip is that I will get to wear shorts, or at least capris again. How I miss summer already.

So about a year after, I am going--with strict instructions to:

  • Take mountains of pictures, one specific of Rainbow Hector that Dr. Jerz is making me take in exchange for a deadline extension. :-D
  • Sugar packets for a friend you all know. We are going through Tucson, Denver, and Mexico, so I will have a hoard of sweetness when I return.

As for what we are doing in Mexico...

  • Wrapping Christmas gifts for the Mexican children in orphanages.
  • Visiting a women's prison.
  • Helping the missionaries at their home in Tucson. They cross the border regularly to the churches in Mexico.

I'm not really sure what else we are doing, but my pastor has assured us that we are going to work. No problem. I am pretty good at that. Just do not ask me to make dinner.

We are leaving Thanksgiving morning. No turkey for me :-( I hope we can get something other than pretzels and grapejuice on the flight.

Anyway, when I get back, I will have that mountain of pics posted here for all to enjoy.

Oh yeah. I don't know any Spanish. :-)

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:19 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2004

Let's Get Mello--Go West

EL266.jpg
EL 266 designing the set for The Girl of the Golden West

Ah melodrama! The genre of too many exclamation points and excessive fainting fits.

I haven't read melodrama before. I have watched old movies, based on melodramatic principles before; you know, the ones with the guy with the black mustache tying a damsel to a railway line? Oh yeah, and the Whose Line? spoofs of melodrama. So really, the only impression I had of melodrama was interpretations by others.

How different things are when you experience them!! Sorry for the overuse of exclamations; they tend to be habit-forming.

In my critical reading of a work, I tend to write in the margins, usually connecting writers to one another. In one section, for example, I likened the story to Romeo and Juliet. This comparison is a little demeaning to Shakespeare's work (artistic and crowd-pleasing), but nevertheless applicable. Bear with me here, I tend to get a little connection-happy.

When Johnson is saying goodbye to The Girl in the final scene continually makes references to Johnson's death. "There's only one way out of Cloudy--and I'm going to take it," he says, and later, "In a few minutes, I shall be quite free." Finally he almost blurts it out: "You've brought me nearer Heaven." The undertones are unmistakable.

And now for the comparison. When Mercutio is dying, he downplays his wound as a scratch, denying the sword's effect with humor to spare Romeo for the moment, but still stating the facts through that humor. "No, 'tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door/ but 'tis enough, 'twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man."

I am not quite sure if the audience knows that Mercution is really dying, but I think they have the inclination that something is wrong. Just as in the The Girl of the Golden West, the audience knows more than the characters, at least for the moment. It just makes me want to scream on stage, in either play: "He's going to die!" Now that would be melodramatic. :-)

So now that I have Shakespeare rolling around in his Stratford grave, I think I will cease my prattling, and move on to other pursuits...

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:20 PM | Comments (2)

November 10, 2004

Interactive Fiction

I really stink at interactive fiction, but I rock at making web pages in short amounts of time. Yay! Check out my work for EL 236.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:41 PM | Comments (2)

Robinson and the bottle

Robinson. Hmm. Haven't heard of him before.

I am so happy to be working with a new author that I haven't been exposed to in AP English from high school. In the past few weeks, I kept wishing that Seton Hill would take those credits to fulfill the requirement of this course. However, being exposed to new writers, such as Robinson and Belasco, I am starting to realize how imperative it is to take this course, and apply a higher level of research to them, which is not covered in an AP course.

Anyway, about Robinson. He has something going on with drinking. I wonder if he was an alcoholic. Hmm. Let's see. Well, I don't see any historical connection there to alcohol in his personal experience, but the article does not go into any detail about his life or the people in it, besides their names. His supposedly suicidal brother may have been an alcoholic, and the habit may have found its way into poetry, such as in Miniver Cheevy and Mr. Flood's Party.

The manner in which alcohol is portrayed in each of these poems, however, is striking. In Miniver Cheevy, for example, the title character is soothing his pain away from his realization that his life does not have the romance of knights or the "golden era" of chivalry. So what? you ask, Lots of people drown their sorrows with the bottle. The alcohol, however is mentioned on the very last line of the poem: "Miniver coughed, and called it fate,/And kept on drinking," indicating that his entire reverie may have been the product of his drunken stupor, rather than his real thoughts about life.

Isn't it true that sometimes people say and do things while they are intoxicated that they would not usually think or do? This last revelation sort of invalidates everything that the narrator had previously said.

But this is common in Robinson. Look at "The Mill." The only thing that reader concretely knows is that the miller said, "There are no millers any more.” The entire story could be made up in the miller's wife's head, as evidenced in Glorianna Locklear's research. (I will post a quote here, soon).

Also in Mr. Flood's Party, the issue of alcohol comes up again. Instead of the distant, almost afterthought of "Miniver Cheevy," this poem brings the fact to life--almost in a literal manner--as a child.

Then, as a mother lays her sleeping child
Down tenderly, fearing it may awake,
He set the jug down slowly at his feet
With trembling care, knowing that most things break;
And only when assured that on firm earth
It stood, as the uncertain lives of men
Assuredly did not, he paced away,
And with his hand extended paused again:

When considering the life of Robinson, I would not think it too farfetched, in my minimal knowledge of his life, that he could become an alcoholic, or through his works, perhaps live vicariously as an alcoholic.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:27 PM | Comments (1)

November 5, 2004

Watching the paper

Because I have read "The Yellow Wallpaper" once before, I wasn't that excited this time through. I mean papers, speeches, tests...blah, blah, blah.

This time, I listened to the soundtrack for perhaps a different interpretation. Though I usually hate various media interpretations on a work, I liked this one. The female narrator in the story played the part in a literal manner: a sufferer of something like Linda's understanding of post-partum depression. However, as Lori mentions the narrator could be trying to convince everyone that she is sick--a hypochrondriac view.

And that is what I must remind myself--this is an interpretation. The sparse details of actual fact in "The Yellow Wallpaper" give the work an air of ambiguity. I question if the room is even in an "ancestral hall," but rather a mental ward. As John S. Bak, quoted here, "explains that the mansion incorporates 'external instruments of restraint suggestive of a prison or a mental ward' (41)". With the narrator's baby, for example, the reader does not even have an indiction if he is real; instead, only passing comments, such as It is fortunate Mary is so good with the baby. Such a dear baby!
And yet I CANNOT be with him, it makes me so nervous" (3), of which the reader should not rely upon (the narrator's possible mental illness) for concrete facts are given.

In this, I must disagree with Michael's assertion that "[John is] undeserving of marriage, much less any relationship with women." John is, as Sichok states earlier in his blog, "we are presented with a male status norm, concurrent with the era." Yes, John is being a jerk in this story--from the interpretation of the narrator, a perhaps unreliable narrator, heightening everything to make her point. Was this Gilman's statement? Absolutely. Her life story depicts a direct association with the narrator.

Kudos to Mike for picking up the feminist view of "The Yellow Wallpaper." I would just take the narrator's statements about her surroundings with a grain of salt.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 9:40 PM | Comments (12)

Overviewing Girl Meets World and SHU blogging

After reading Dr. Jerz's blog on An Emerging Academic Weblog Community, I kept questioning whether my blog is academic, or diary-like teenage musings that the Perseus blog survey implies.

I mean, I am Girl Meets World. What does that name imply? When I named my blog, I had many content concepts in mind: my professional life, personal life, and finally, my academic life (which is categorized with professional life for now, being a college student)--a plethora of Amanda-ness that I think I have remained true to in the past year.

Though over the summer I did focus on more personal matters because my blogging pals were far, far away, I was still catering to my audience, just as I cater to my professors when I blog, and I am letting the kitty out of the bag when I say this, the requirements for my portfolio. Though my blog is mine, I still cater to that audience--whoever you all are. :-)

However, I will agree with this statement:

Blogging is many things, yet the typical blog is written by a teenage girl who uses it twice a month to update her friends and classmates on happenings in her life. It will be written very informally (often in "unicase": long stretches of lowercase with ALL CAPS used for emphasis) with slang spellings, yet will not be as informal as instant messaging conversations (which are riddled with typos and abbreviations). Underneath the iceberg, blogging is a social phenomenon: persistent messaging for young adults.

I have been "out there" so to speak in the blogging world, and I have noticed that many of the blogs are for exclusive friend circles, and are focused around people that I do not know, nor, in most cases, care to. Because I know the people on the SHU blogs, I am interested in their content, but "outside" bloggers may not.

However, the Perseus blog survey is putting the teenage blogger in a negative light. She is doing the same thing that intellectuals do, communicating information. Though it is unfortunate that the academic blogging world must be subjected to this type of blog when searching for "good content," one shouldn't forget that this hypothetical teenage girl is having an influence on her readers, which should not be degraded just because of style choice. The academic bloggers, after all are the ones that have the say in this matter, at least in the classroom. But is this a type of blogging (excuse hyperbole here) discrimination? Possibly.

Our blogs have gotten attention in the past year. The administration, faculty and students at SHU have an impression of what blogging is from what we have written personal, academic, professional or "the other" that we cannot even describe. Though some brush it off as something the English majors do, others actually become interested in what we do and eventually pick up the habit, regardless of being in the English field.

What has attracted them? Perhaps the sense of community, the possibility of getting their ideas online for others to consider. I cannot read their minds, but I know mine, and those were some of the reasons I picked up blogging with the fervor that I did last fall. Regardless, the blogging community at SHU, as imagined as it may be, is there and still working, as stressed out as its bloggers may be.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:52 AM | Comments (1)

November 3, 2004

Feeling like a newbie

I don't have all the fun software the guys in EL236 have, but who says Moveable Type is obsolete. Check out my work--

Style-Test page
Blog-Style

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 11:37 AM | Comments (4)

November 2, 2004

First Vote: Reflection

Lots of firsts this year. Including voting.

I registered in high school, but for the past few years, I have, much to my dismay, not voted on the primaries or any other elections. My excuses have been school-oriented. "Amanda," I berate myself, "What a bunch of crap."

This election, above all others, I thought I would get in there--into the booth of terror--and move some levers around.

I arrived at the polling place in my town, the kindergarten through second-grade school, and entered the building, surprisingly with only two pieces of semi-literature in hand: two notebooks from the local candidates. One candidate rep. also gave me candy that looked like it had been sitting in the sun too long.

When I got into the building, I was expecting some kind of mad rush, but it turned out surprisingly placid and quiet--homey almost. The ladies running the polls were dressed in their collared shirts and scotch-guard slacks, looking like they were ready for someone to serve tea.

The lady attending the books asked my name, and promptly started to search for it. "I can't find it. I see your mom and your dad, but not you. Amanda, right?"

I think she was one of my neighbors, but I don't remember her name.

I REALLY wanted to vote today, so I helped her look through the books, and I spied my high school loopy signature and finally was given permission to enter the booth.

I am afraid of that thing. My mom used to work the polls when I was younger and I never understood why people went into the noisy little booth and left with such solemn looks on their faces--contemplative.

I figured it out. So many little levers. After a gray-haired little lady taught me the procedures, I pulled the big huge lever to close the doors and got straight to work.

Then I pulled the big lever and was finished. So easy that I thought I did it wrong. I kind of wanted to stay in there a while and look at the mechanisms of the booth a little bit more, but alas, I had made my decision and the 70's- inspired curtains thrust outward. My vote was in.

That's it. I stepped out of the booth and moved on with my life. I hope America can do the same thing, no matter who comes out the victor.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 2:55 PM | Comments (6)