Scared…

As a white woman in America feeling scared is not a new feeling. I see threats everywhere. I know that if something happens, I will be questioned. Why was I there? Why was I wearing that? Why didn’t I do more? Why didn’t I try harder? How could I have prevented this?

This morning the constant fear that I simmers just below the surface of my being has changed. I am no longer concerned with I. I am scared for my country. I am scared for my fellow citizens. I am scared for what the future holds – for me and the world.

I am desperately trying to hold onto my faith. My faith that cooler heads will prevail. My faith that the democratic experiment that the United Stated began 240 years ago will not be dramatically altered. My faith in the checks and balances that were written into the Constitution will protect my country, my fellow citizens, me.

I am scared that my life will be altered in ways that I can’t begin to imagine.

I have never felt unsure of my future. I have always known in my core that if I work really hard I will be able to have the things that I want. That I will be judged on my merits. That I get to decide who I am and what my future holds.

I no longer have these convictions.

In the coming days, months, years the actions of many will be judged and placed into history. I keep telling myself that we can come together. That at our core we are Americans. We have survived division before and it can be overcome again. I keep telling myself these things because I need them to be true. I don’t know if that need will be met and I am not sure if they are true; if they ever were.

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Oh, college…

I have been doing college for a while. I start, get distracted, do poorly, take a break, and then start again. Through the various colleges and universities that I have attended the most important thing that I have learned is that I’m more capable than I think I am.

Capabilities come in many forms. I know that I can be a successful student, friend, employee, girlfriend, family member, dog mom. This past year is the first time that I have attempted to fill all these rolls at once. I have not been successful at juggling all these rolls. Each one has had to take the back burner for a bit while other more pressing obligations (responsibilities) took center stage.

This is a huge adjustment that I have made. In my prior attempts at college when my responsibilities had me spread too thin, I quit. And I mean I quit all of them. I thought that if I couldn’t be all, all the time then I would be nothing. This all or nothing mindset kept me from moving forward. I was stuck in a pattern that always started with the best intentions only to get derailed when life happened.

Recently (the entire month of October), I have found myself slipping back into that same pattern of discouragement and having the intense desire to quit. I was finally able to recognize this horrible pattern that I had created for myself. I decided that if I was going to quit it was going to be on my terms, not because I missed an assignment or two (the actual count is somewhere around 5 depending on how you count missed and what qualities as an assignment) and got overwhelmed, stressed out, burned out, and scared. If I was going to quit, it was going to be because I wanted to. It was not going to be a reaction to all the other stuff of life. It would be a conscious decision and not a knee jerk reaction.

This epiphany took too long to come to, but I’m glad it came. Being able to recognize this pattern has made it easier for me to see patterns in my other behaviors and in those around me.

 

Imitation of The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck

http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/148/peter-rabbit-and-other-stories/4905/the-tale-of-jemima-puddle-duck/

 

What an amusement it is to hear of a young girl  of desperate for a puppy!

 

This is the story of Poppy, who was despondent because her mother would not buy her a puppy of her own.

 

Her toy doll Francis, was happy to hauled around the house to keep Poppy company “I have not the desire to be chewed on by a puppy; and neither do you, Poppy. You will not remember to feed it; you know you won’t!”

 

“I want to have my own puppy; I will love it and feed it,” cried Poppy.

 

She attempted to adopt a puppy; but the shelter would not let her take the puppy home and took each one away.

 

Poppy became quite creative. She formulated a plan to steal a puppy from the house next door.

 

She went into action on a bright summer day down the street that leads across the park by the lake.

 

She was wearing her favorite summer dress and carried a wicker basket.

 

When she reached the other side of the park, she realized her neighbor’s was still off a ways off.

 

She knew that she could reach it.

 

Poppy was not a fan of running. She started at a trot down the path, and then she launched into a full run.

 

She ran quickly when she took time to get started.

 

She jogged through the park looking for an opening in her neighbor’s fence, where the fence and the shrubs had grown apart.

 

Poppy slowed down and began to look for a way to gain access to the kennel inside the neighbor’s yard. She wanted an easy way to get access to the puppies kept just out of her reach.

 

But – there in the yard, she was surprised to come across a small bunny eyeing her curiously. He had button nose and a carrot in his mouth.

 

“Hello?” said Poppy, with her basket open and her chest heaving – “Hello?”.

 

The bunny twitched his nose quickly and gazed cautiously at Poppy –

 

“Young girl, have you realized you’re in the wrong yard?” said he. He had a white bushy tail which he would twitch, as the wind was blowing in new sounds.

 

Poppy thought him cute and cuddly. She told the bunny that she had not gone into the wrong yard, but that she was looking to find a puppy to adopt.

 

“Hmm! Are you sure? I suppose!” said the bunny with a button nose, gazing at Poppy. He stopped the twitching of his tail and sat completely still.

 

Poppy cried of the unfairness of her parents.

 

“Really! How tragic! I hope I never deal with them. I would tell them to relax their hash rules!

 

“But as to a puppy – there plenty of them here: I have a couple of them in my yard here. Of course, my sweet child, no one would notice if you took own for your own. You can take all the time you want,” said the white fluffy-tailed bunny.

 

He guided the path to an overused, depressing looking kennel at the far end of the yard.

 

It was constructed of metal posts and chain link fence, and there were a couple of small holes, patched together with junk from the yard.

 

“This is the kennel I run; you would not like my other shelter- my pet store- so welcoming,” said the friendly bunny.

 

There was a small dish at the front of the kennel, used once for some other purpose. The bunny moved some of the rubble and the two walked in.

 

The kennel was completely full of the mess of the puppies – it was almost unbearable; but it was nearby and there were puppies.

 

Poppy was shocked to see so many puppies. But it was close; and she started looking for a puppy of her own.

 

When she found her way out, the fluffy-tailed bunny was sitting in grass munching on a fresh carrot – at least this carrot was fresh, but he was intently waiting for the young girl to come out.

 

He was so friendly that he appeared sad that Poppy had to go home for the afternoon. He committed to making sure that her favorite puppy would be there when she came back the next day.

He said he loved puppies and had a good feeling about the young girl, he would be happy to have her make one of them her own.

Poppy came across the park each day; she played with all the puppies in the kennel. They were all excited and jumped and played. The quiet bunny watched intently. He kept his distance and plotted to make each puppy the most desirable when Poppy went home each evening.

At last Poppy told him that she had plans to take a puppy the next day — “and I will bring my a leash so that I will have a way to take home my furry friend. It might try to run away.,” said the excited Poppy.

“Madam, I there is no need to bring a leash; I will have one for you. But before you select your new furry friend, I want you to have something to remember me by. Let us have a tea party, just the two of us!

“I must ask you to bring the tea and some vegetables to snack on? Carrots and celery, and lettuce and ripe cucumbers, and some ranch dip. I will provide the cups for the tea,” said the excited bunny with a fluffy tail.

Poppy was a young child; not even the mention of all the vegetables made her question the bunny’s intention of stocking his food stores.

She snuck into her family garden, gathering up of all the vegetables that are known to be favorites of rabbits.

And she wandered into the kitchen and got the biggest bottle of ranch dip out of the refrigerator.

Her brother Mac saw her on her way out, “What are you doing with all those vegetables?? Where do you go everyday while I am at school, Poppy?”

Poppy craved the acceptance of her brother; she told him the whole story.

Her brother listened, with his more greater wisdom; he laughed at the idea of a tea party between a young girl and a fluffy-tailed bunny.

He listened intently and was able to figure out exactly which neighbor across the park had the kennel and puppies.

Then he walked out, and headed towards the baseball field. He went looking for two of his firend who he played baseball with.

Poppy set out across the park one last time, on a warm summer day. She was slowed by the bunch of vegetables and the awkward size of the ranch dip she carried in her basket.

She ran across the park, and finally made it to the kennel of the fluffy-tailed bunny.

He was jumping around the yard; he kept glancing around taking time to sniff the air. When Poppy snuck through the fence he froze.

“Come back here as soon as you take a look at your future puppy. Give me the tea and the vegetables for our party. Quickly now!”

He was more skittish than he had ever been. Poppy couldn’t remember him ever speaking to her in such a manner.

She was confused and put off.

While she was sneaking into the kennel she thought she heard her the crunch of dried grass. Someone with a pink button nose was poking around the junk keeping the dogs in.

She felt confused and became suspicious.

While she played with the puppies near where the junk pile that kept the puppies in there was a crash – banging, clanging, junk toppling, bang, squeak.

And that was the last that the neighborhood saw of that fluffy-tailed bunny.

Presently Mac found his way into the kennel and picked up Poppy.

Unfortunately, Mac’s friends were careless with the gate and all the puppies escaped before he could stop them.

He had a cut on his hand and both his friends where laughing.

Poppy was marched home hysterical about not getting a puppy.

She hatched another plan some months later, and she was set to put it in action; but she never acted on it.

Poppy said that it was because she got a new toy doll; but she had never been a focused child.

 

 

Imitation of The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck

The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter

For this imitation I decided to start with creating template. I cannot remember the last time that I did any creative writing or writing with dialog. Even though creating the template took quite a bit of time, I think that it will be worth it because it provides me with the bones of the story. Now it’s time to fill in the meat.

To contrast with Beatrix Potter’s story I will have the Jemima be a person and have the supporting characters a combination of bits of her imagination and her family.

My imitation will tell the story of a young child who desperately wants a puppy andher attempt to get one.

Cast of Characters

Jemima – Young child, Poppy

Rebeccah – Toy doll, Francis

Farmer’s Wife – Mum

Fox – imaginary bunny that lives outside, Admiral

Kep – Older brother, Mac

Foxhound Puppies – friends of Mac’s

What a ___ ___ it is to ___ a ____ of ____ with a ___.

____ to the ____ of ____ ____-____, who was ____ because the ____’s ____ would not ____ her ____ her own ____.

Her ____, ____, was ____ ____ to ____ the ____ to ____ ____ – “ I have not the ____ to ____ on a ____ for ____-____ ____; and no ____ ____ you, ____, You ____ ____ ____ ____ ____; you ____ you ____.

“I ____ to ____ my ____ ____; I will ____ them ____ ____ ____,” ____ ____ ____-____.

She ____ to ____ her ____; but they ________ ____ and ____ ____.

____ ____-____ became ____ ____. She ____ to ____ a ____ ____ ____ from the farm.

She ____ ____ ____ on a ____ ____ ____ ____ the ____ ____ that ____ ____ ____ ____.

She ____ ____ a ____ and a ____ ____.

 

____ she ____ the ____ of the ____, she ____ a ____ in the ____.

 

She ____ ____ it ____ a ____ ____ ____.

 

____ ____-____ was not ____ in the ____ of ____. She ____ ____ a ____ ____ ____ her ____, and then ____ ____ ____ into the ____.

 

She ____ ____ when she ____ ____ a ____ ____.

 

She ____ ____ ____ the ____ ____ she ____ an ____ ____ in the ____ of the ____, where the ____ and ____ had ____ ____.

 

____ ­ ____ ____ and ____ to ____ ____ in ____ of a ____ ____ ____ ____. She ____ ____ a ____ ________ ________ ____.

 

But – ____ ____the ____, she was ____to ____ an ____ ____ ____ ____ a ____. He had ________ ____and ____ ____ ____.

 

“____?” said ____ ____-____, with her ____ and her ____ on the ____ – “____?”.

 

The ____ ____his ____ ____ his ____ and ____ ____at ____ –

 

“____, have you ____ your ____?” said he. He had a ____ ________ which he was ____ ____, as the ____ was ____ ____.

 

____ thought him ________and ____. She ____that she had ____ ____her ____, but that she was ____to ____ a ____ ____ ____ ____.

 

“____!____ ____ ____? ____!” said the ____ with ____ ____ , ____ ____ at ____. He ____ ____ the ____ and ____ it in ____ ____ ____.

 

____ ____ of the ____ ____.

 

“____!____ ____! I ___ I ___ ___with ______. I ___ ___ it to ___ its ___ ___!

 

“But as to ___ – there ___ ___ ___: I ___ a ___ of ___ in ___ ___. ___, ___ ___ ___, you ___ ___ in ___ ___. You ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ you ___,” said the ___ ___-___ ___.

 

He ___ the ___ to a ___ ___, ___-___ ______ the ___.

 

It was ___ of ___ and ___, and ___ ___ ___ ___ ___, ___ on ___ of ___, by ___ ___ ___ ___.

 

“This ___ ___ ______; you ___ ___ _________ – my ___ ___- so ___,” said the ___ ___.

 

There was a ___ ___at the ___ of the ___, ___of ___ ___ ___. The ___ ___the ___and ___ ___ ___.

 

The ___ was ___ ___ ___ of ___ – it was ___ ___; but it was ___and ___ ___.

 

___ ___-___ was ___  ___ to ___ ___ a ___  ___ of ___. But it was ___  ___; and she ___a ___  ___ ___  ___  ___  ___  ___.

 

When she ___ ___, the ___-___ ___ was ___ on a ___  ___ the ___ – at ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___, but he was ___  ___ the ___ ___ ___.

 

He was ___ ___ that he ___  ___  ___  to ___  ___  go ___ for the ___. He ____ to ­­­___ ­___ ­___ ­___ of ­___ ­___ ­___ she ­___ ­___ ­___ the ­___ ­___.

 

He ___ he ___ ___ and ___; he ___ ___ ___ to ___ a ___ ___ in his ___.

___ ___ -___ came ___ ___; she ___ ___ ___ in the ___. They ___ ___ ___ and ___ ___. The ___ ___ ___ ___ ___. He ___ to ___ ___ ___ and ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___.

At last ___ ___ him that she ___ to ___ to ___ ___ ___ —”and I ___ ___ a ___ of ___ ___ ___, so that I ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ the ___ ___ ___. They ___ ___ ___,” said the ___ ___.

“Madam, I ___ you not to ___ ___ ___ ___ ___; I will ___ ___. But ___ you ___ your ___ ___, I ___ to ___ you a ___. Let us have a ___ ___ ___ to ___!

“___ I ___ you to ___ up ___ ___ ___ the ___ ___ to ___ a ___ ___? ___ and ___, and ___ and ___ ___, and ___ ___. I will ___ ___ for the ___ —___ for the ___,” said the ___ ___ with ___ ___.

___ ___ -___ was a ___: not even the ___ of ___ and ___ ___ ___ ___.

She ___ ___ the ___ garden, ___ ___ ___ of all the ___ ___ of ___ ___ are ___ for ___ ___ ___.

And she ___ into the ___ and ___ ___ ___ ___ of a ___.

The ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___, “What are you doing ___ ___ ___? Where do you ___ ___ ___ ___ ___, ___ ___ -___?”

___ was ___ in ___ of the ___; she ___ ___ the ___ ___.

The ___ ___, with his ___ ___ ___ ___ ___; he ___ ___ ___ ___ the ___ ___ with ___ ___.

He ___ ___ ___ ___ the ___ and ___ the ___ ___ of the ___ and ___.

Then he ___ ___, and ___ ___ the ___. He ___ to ___ for ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ the ___.

___ ___ -___ ___ ___ the ___ ___ for the ___ ___, on a ___ ___. She was ___ ___ ___ ___ of ___ and ___ ___ in a ___.

She ___ ___ the ___, and ___ ___ the ___ of the ___ ___ -___ ___.

He was ___ on a ___; he ___ the ___ and ___ ___ ___ ___ the ___. When ___ ___ he ___ ___.

“___ ___ the ___ ___ ___ ___ you ___ ___ at ___ ___. ___ ___ the ___ for the ___. ___ ___!”

He was ___ ___. ___ ___ -___ had ___ ___ him ___ ___ that.

She ___ ___ and ___.

While she was ___ she ___ ___ ___ ___ the ___ of the ___. Someone with a ___ ___ ___ at the ___ of the ___, and ___ ___ it.

___ became ___ ___.

___ ___ ___ there were ___ ___ ___ —___, ___, ___ and ___, ___ and ___.

And ___ ___ was ___ ___ of that ___ -___ ___.

Presently ___ ___ the ___ of the ___ and ___ ___ ___ ___ -___.

Unfortunately the ___ ___ ___ and ___ ___ ___ the ___ ___ he ___ ___ ___.

He ___ a ___ ___ his ___, and ___ the ___ ___ ___.

___ ___ -___ was ___ ___ in ___ on ___ of ___ ___.

She ___ ___ ___ in ___, and she was ___ to ___ ___ ___: but ___ ___ of ___ ___.

___ ___ -___ said ___ it was ___ ___ ___ ___; but ___ ___ ___ ___ a ___ ___.

Imitation

An imitation of This Is a Photograph of Me by Margaret Atwood

This is a Reflection of Me

I saw it some time ago.

At first is seems to be

a rippled

likeness: waves and current

moving

reflecting in the water;

 

 

then, as you continue to look

at it, you see towards the left

a glimpse of something: a fin

of a fish

(koi or sunfish) swimming

and, to the right, just a little further

what ought to be a gentle

stream, a group of rocks.

 

 

A cross the pond there is a forest,

And beyond that, threatening

mountains.

 

 

(The reflection appeared

the moment before I drowned.

 

 

I am in the pond, just under

the surface, looking up no longer looking

down.

 

 

It is difficult to see where

precisely, or to see

the effects the water has had:

the effect of fish

on their lunch changes appearances

 

 

but if you glance in just the right

way

you can see what is left of me.)

 

An Imitation of the first paragraph of Ernest Hemingway’s The Three Day Blow

The sun stopped shining as Jenn walked up the path to the old farm house. The lawn had been mowed and the rain began falling gently on the path. Jenn stopped and looked up atthe grey sky, noticing how the rain was darkening the walk further. The rain fell gently on her mascaraed eyelashes. The walk went from the road up to the porch of the old farm house. There was the garden, plants withering, bugs enjoying their lunch. In back was the garage, the animal pens, and the river cutting through the country side like a knife. The river rushed further down the way as she walked up. It was the first of the spring storms.

Writing Sideways

The free soul is rare, but you know it when you see it – basically because you feel good, very good, when you are near or with them. – Charles Bukowski in Tales of Ordinary Madness

Descriptive, multiple parts, repetition

The ____ ____ is ____, but ___ ____ it ____ ___ ___ it – _________ because ___ ____ ____, ____ ____, ____ you ___ ____ or ____ _____.

The caged lion is common, but you see it and you worship it – tragically because he’s a reflection, a reflection, of you and yours or your future.

 

Turnitin – an off topic post

This week I learned about Turnitin. What I have learned really concerns me. It seems that so much of our writing is being judged (or now graded) based on an algorithm. Applying for a job? Make sure that you include key words from the posting to get your résumé “noticed” by the computer “reading” it. Don’t even think about calling the company to speak with the manager you would report to – submit your résumé and online application and if it matches some undefined qualification a hiring manager will call you back. But be careful! If your résumé isn’t “readable” it will automatically get tossed.

Now it seems that education is taking the same approach. Turnitin provides not only colleges and universities but also K-12 schools with a program that will screen for plagiarism, assist with feedback, and grading.

Plagiarism is a serious concern. I imagine that it has dramatically increased with the ease of “collaboration” and access to multiple ideas sources through the internet. In every syllabus I have ever received there is always at least a brief note about plagiarism. It is a real problem that can have life altering consequences. Remember Senator John Walsh from Montana? (Spoiler Alert! He had his degree revoked.) I have had classes that focus on the ethical issues of plagiarism. It is literally stealing someone else’s work. Stealing is wrong. Don’t steal other people’s things or ideas. Don’t pass off someone else’s work as your own. Don’t buy a canned paper off the internet and expect that it will go unnoticed. This is cheating. Which is also wrong.

My understanding is that there have been other ways to check for plagiarism. If Turnitin stopped at being a resource to verify plagiarism I would have no problem with it. In our culture, the borrowing of other’s ideas and not giving them appropriate credit is not acceptable. But to offer a program that offers feedback and grading based on “best practices?”

I understand that teachers and professors do a lot of work. Grading papers sounds tedious. Yes there are those gems that standout, but I bet those are not the rule. I have no desire to sit down and read 20 to 40 essays on the same topic, provide unique and appropriate feedback, and determine a grade that is fair. But I do expect my professor to. That is why I am in college. That is why I pay tuition. I have hired my university to provide me with the opportunity to gain new knowledge and learn how to apply it. I am asking an expert in the field to critique my knowledge. I don’t care if my writing fits an algorithm. I want to know if I have been able to effectively relate knowledge that I have learned in that course.

I am a distance student. This means lots of Blackboard posts. From reading my classmates posts, it is apparent that some are foreign students. Their posts can be grammatically “rough.” But they have great ideas. Yes, it takes longer to read and try to decipher what they are trying to say, but it is worth the effort. I don’t think that my grammatically correct regurgitation of course material deserves a higher grade than their original thoughts that applies knowledge learned.

How does Turnitin account for this scenario?

One of my courses is using Turnitin. It is the second political science class that is required for graduation. I get there are quite possibly over 1,000 students across all sections. I understand that trying to grade two short essays from every student is time consuming and probably intellectually draining work. Here is my idea. Don’t have writing assignments. If it is too cumbersome to have a person grade my paper, don’t require it. If between the various faculty, graduate students, and professors grading 2,000 essays eats up valuable time wait until the courses are smaller and individualized attention can be given to each assignment and student.

Turnitin seems like the easy way out. If a course wants to make sure that students know how to appropriately cite information, both in text and as a work cited list I can think of several ways that multiple choice questions can be used. If you don’t have the time to spend with each assignment, get creative to find new assignments that aren’t tedious to grade.

I wonder how Turnitin would “grade” a work like Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Or any of her other books. Can Turnitin “see” style and intentional breaks with the “rules?”

Or is this just one more way that individuality is being squashed? Learn the material to do well on the test, learn to write to the algorithm, create the résumé that will get “noticed” by the computer.

 

 

A question to Toni Morrison:  My 15-year-old daughter lives to write. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?Darren Wethers, St. Louis, Mo.
The work is in the work itself. If she writes a lot, that’s good. If she revises a lot, that’s even better. She should not only write about what she knows but about what she doesn’t know. It extends the imagination.

 

 

Clowns, Hurricanes, & Politics

I rarely watch broadcast news. I intentionally do not watch the news – local or national. I have not always avoided the news. I tend to go through phases where I watch and want to watch. I want to know what is happening in my community and the world.

I quickly burn out.

I have found that as I consume news I want to consume more. And more. And more. I can feel my world view changing. Usually in not very positive ways. Eventually I get burned out and completely tune out.

In spending hours watching the news over the past weeks I am reminded of why I do not watch. The news provokes a lot of anxiety for me. The stories are loud, old “news” is brought back up, anyone can become a scapegoat or blamed, warnings are issued, and everything is very intense. The anchors tones change and they encourage their guests and experts to jump on their bandwagon. At times they seem to get frustrated when those guests do not.

With my intentional avoidance broadcast news I do at times find out that I am not as up to date as I think I should be. I had no idea that clowns were sweeping the nation coming for our children. I knew about Hurricane Matthew, I try to check in on the weather every few days. The political climate makes me sad – I have gotten to the point where I am trying to avoid print stories in addition to broadcast. I do think that it is important to be well informed about the happenings of the world. I think there are better ways to get than information than cable news.