Layover in Minneapolis International

I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning up this past month (and suffering with back/leg pain) trying to organize my thoughts and get my portfolio together as I embark on a new journey. While sifting through some old college papers, I ran across a poem I wrote two years ago after traveling to Missouri. It made me remember how much I love writing, so here is my effort to keep my blog alive and keep writing.

Layover in Minneapolis International

I'm ready for adventure!
I'm ready to see the world!
ok, so I'm heading for Missouri
to an area remote and rural.

But I'm going to meet new people!
who speak in different ways!
but with all my eavesdropping,
everyone sounds the same.

I search for an open breezeway
to take in the Minnesota air,
but the building is sealed tight
against inclement weather

and it dawns on me as I watch
the arrivals and departures
to and from
exotic places

Here in the exhale of foreign lands
may be the closest I come to adventure.
So I wash my hands
and exit the tornado shelter.

Dreaming Big

Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

~ Harriet Tubman

I am FINALLY ready! It’s been almost a month since my epiphany and I’m taking baby steps toward my dream.

On July 7th, a friend of mine invited me to sit in on the Spiritual Counsel Meeting for her sanctuary. I had been to the previous month’s meeting and was impressed beyond words. Of course I wanted to stay!

In this meeting, we did a guided meditation to perhaps get a preview or gain some insight as to where the sanctuary is going.

Backstory

Over the 20 years she has been helping animals and growing her sanctuary, there have been major exoduses just before major growth. When I say exodus, I mean to say many older rescued animals in her care choose that time to say goodbye. It’s bizarre how how it happens and before you suggest that she has a hand in “killing” these animals, let me assure you that animals are everything to her. If anything, she may have been guilty of keeping them alive longer than they wished. She has grown wiser over the years and has fine tuned her incredible ability to listen to the animals. It has been the pattern, though, that when they see large scale losses and they’re disheartened and mourning, somehow pieces click together and opportunities seem to appear out of no where. They suddenly were able to move to a larger property or branch out into other states or connections are suddenly made to further their rescue efforts.

The Spiritual Counsel Meeting

Anyway, we just faced a major exodus of several matriarchs within the past few months and we’re all feeling disheartened, lost, and mournful and my dear friend is able to lift her head enough to remember the pattern and wonder what is coming next. So she brings up the question in this month’s Spiritual Counsel Meeting.

I can be a bit skeptical when it comes to ANY spirituality. I grew up Christian, but didn’t see anything miraculous in anyone I met. I love the idea of smart women being in touch with nature and knowing the healing properties of herbs and meditation (aka witchcraft). I love the idea of creating my own magic. I want to be able to sense things on other levels that aren’t well understood by pedestrian science. I want to speak with the animals and understand the world around me. But who am I to have any kind of super powers or special abilities?

And I find myself here in a room with the most amazing healers who have been drawn in by the sanctuary. I’m in total awe and feeling so out of my depth wondering why I was even invited. And then we began the meditation.

I kept seeing a place that I saw about a year ago in a dream. I knew then this was the next sanctuary. This time, a white hawk was added to my vision. My hand itched to capture on paper what I was seeing: a cliff, tall grass, a stream in the distance, and the hawk. I wanted to paint it. I wanted to bring it to life! In this meditation, I finally embraced my identity as an artist and healer. My calling is to help people express themselves through art. I left that meeting with the goal of becoming an art therapist and bringing my skills to the school within the sanctuary.

The Plan

My first goal is to start out small. I will be joining art groups within my community and working on my craft. I will be posting my portfolio to my instagram account to remember where I came from.

Additionally, I’d like to create sellable art in honor of specific animals to raise money for their care. We recently took in a lost and sick grey tabby cat who we found on the street in the gutter on the edge of death. After taking her to the vet, she looked so bad and I wasn’t sure she’d make it through the night. I didn’t want her to die without a name, so I called her Primrose after Katniss’s sister in The Hunger Games. (We named the last cat we took in Katniss, who was also a grey tabby.) We have 5 dogs and 3 cats because we are horrible fosters and we can’t do more animals. But I can’t turn her away either. I’ve been posting all over social media and one lady commented that she wishes she could adopt her, but her husband is allergic. At that moment I wished I could send her a plush Primrose so that she could kind of adopt her and perhaps help with the growing vet bills. I also realized this would be a great way to fundraise for other animals as well!

To further my passive income efforts, I’ll create sellable clipart and designs that can be applied to merchandise on RedBubble, Society6, and Cricut.

My next step is to create meetups where people can gather and work on their projects or learn new skills. I’ll do paint and sips for adults and drawing classes for kids. I’ll create curriculums that can also be translated to online education.

Ultimately, I will make my way into an art therapist space where I help people express long buried emotions through art and creativity.

Trash or Optical Illusion

I have been on a journey of self-discovery for years and have finally made some headway this weekend. Although I don’t want to get into the details just yet, I wanted to post a video that metaphorically illustrates my epiphany.

My art, talents, and life just seems like a series of jumbles and jots, but I have to keep reminding myself that it will all come together in a bigger picture.

I may not know exactly where this path will take me, but I can say with confidence (finally) that I am an artist.

My Epic Birthday Weekend Fiasco

So Friday afternoon when I was supposed to be cleaning up and getting ready for the weekend, I decided I wanted to paint my nails. The top of the bottle of the color I chose was sealed shut. Yes, there were plenty of other colors with perfectly removable tops. I love OPI and I have a ridiculous collection of nail polish. I wanted that one. I poured nail polish remover into the top and swirled it around and wiggled and twisted to no avail. As my twisting turned to absent-minded pushing, a random squirrel started to yell at Kobe, our tiny 13-year-old, blind min-pin. The bottle finally gave up the fight, while also having the last word. I snapped the cap and broke off the top part of the glass bottle. For half a moment I wondered how doable it would be to paint my nails with the shard of glass still attached to the lid. That is about the time I realized I sliced the back of my left index finger wide open and was about to bleed profusely if I didn’t hold the wound closed. I calmly put the bottle down, rinsed my hand in the sink and quickly checked the severity of the cut to make sure I wasn’t being over dramatic. This wasn’t easy being a hemophobe. It oozed with a whole lot of NOPE so I calmly and casually yelled to my husband across the house that I cut my hand open. He rushed out with all the calmness of a first time expecting father and drove me to urgent care.

While in the waiting room, I had to laugh at all of it or my brain would linger too long on the thought that I might have sliced myself down to the bone. It’s just as well, I thought at one point. Now that it’s all over my hand, I’m not so fond of the color anymore. (If you know me, you’d know I’m notorious for putting on nail polish, changing my mind, and promptly removing it.)

I ended up getting sutures to close the inch long gash on my finger and strict orders to not get it wet. Perfect Val timing because my husband had a birthday surprise for me in a few hours – a lovely evening of pottery making! Of course I had to ruin the surprise because he had to explain to the doctor what he had planned for me. I made two sad bowls, but had a wonderful time checking one more thing off my bucket list and spending time with friends all while rocking a quite fashionable surgical purple glove.

The next day, we attended a volunteer party and because I can’t keep a secret, I got us tickets for Don’t Tell Comedy for our 18 year anniversary. They don’t tell you anything until the day of, so I couldn’t have spilled the beans even if I wanted to. It turned out to be a great evening with three great comedians and one obnoxious guy. It was BYOB, so we packed dinner and a few exotic drinks we wanted to try. The hard kombucha was good, the cherry cider was down right awful, and I don’t even remember the beer as it’s only function was to get the awful taste out of my mouth and give my mouth something to do when I felt the need to heckle the chauvinistic idiot on stage.

We stopped at The Alamo after the show and finished the night with a pitcher of margaritas.

I spent my birthday tired and perhaps a bit hungover, but it was a pretty great weekend.

Life by the Bucket

It has been two months since I lost my best friend and I can’t help feeling the twinge of regret. I wish I spent more time with her. I wish I was more available to take her on walks. I wish I did more to help her or be there for her.

As I lamented all the things I didn’t do while she was with me, I decided I don’t want to live my life in regret. I’m going to do all the things I’ve ever wanted to do. I’m going to Bucket List. I’m going to do all the things I want to do before I kick the proverbial bucket.

In September when Ebony was sick and I had just finished my summer semester, I made my first attempt at Bucket Listing. I continued reading The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and I finally learned how to knit. Every time I took Ebby outside, I sat with my needles and yarn practicing. It became my timer. When I finished a row, it was time to go in. It was far from perfect. It had random holes where I must have accidentally dropped a loop. I had no idea what I was doing, but I pushed on any way. I had no idea what I was making, but I pushed on any way. Finally towards the end of December, after weeks of picking it up and longer spells of putting it down, I finished a skein with a two foot by two foot…thing…with holes. I looked at it and thought what the hell am I going to do with this? I looked back on all the moments I spent with it, with Ebony. All the sleepless nights. The times I wanted to occupy my hands to momentarily forget about the suffering. Every memory was woven into the piece. What took me four months to knit was unraveled in under an hour. The time I spent with the yarn will never be forgotten. I started over. I found a simple pattern for a cute slouchy beanie in method I was already familiar with and had the tools for: crochet. I had cut my losses and started again with a small bite. I normally try to start monumental projects that are difficult to finish. I was able to finish one beanie in under a day. By New Year’s I finished two! I achieved big results with small steps.

When I finished my fall semester and marketing degree, I made a second attempt at Bucket Listing. I’ve been saying for over a year that when I’m done with school, I’m going to sign up for Skillshare, take classes on Coursera, and do Kahn Academy more. I finally signed up for Skillshare last month. So far, Ive completed ten classes including Japanese, guitar tuning, drawing, illustrator, and singing (to name a few). I’m now able to work with Illustrator more fluidly and my graphic design work is more efficient!

On New Years, I decided that life is too short to be so overweight and feeling like I do. I want to feel good. I want to look good. After a lot of deliberation, I signed up for a gym membership. I’ve been to the gym three times this week. I’m sore AF, but I feel alive! I’ve always wanted to try Zumba, so tonight I jumped into a class and gave it my all. It was amazing and I loved it so much!

I don’t like “resolutions” because they’ve become a kind of joke. We make resolutions (with the best intentions) and without fail, we break them. I made one this year, but I’d prefer to call it a pact. With my whole body, mind, and soul, I want with the greatest intensity to live smaller. I wish to purge everything that is holding me back and filling me with regret. I wish to make time for things that really matter. I wish to make space to breathe and welcome in new adventures. I wish to live like it is my last moments on this earth. I want to treat people like it’s their last moments on this earth. I want to build habits and a lifestyle that would accommodate that goal. Never again will I hold anything so precious and take it for granted. I will live my Life by the Bucket.

Ebony

When I walk through the house, I’m suppose to hear the soft pad of her paws on the carpets and the click of her nails on the wood floor when she misses a runner. She hated the wood floors, so we got her rugs to help her walk. When I walk down the hall, I’m suppose to be slowed down because she wants to lead the way, but then waits for me to walk in front of her to tell her where to go. When I’m in the bathroom, I’m suppose to see her black nose in the crack of the door as she impatiently waits for me to come out. When I sit on the floor, I’m suppose to feel her hot breath on my face just before she licks my cheek … and my arms … and my neck … and my legs. I’m suppose to hold her head in my hands, caress her snout up between her eyes and over her ears and feel her soft fur on my thumbs, her thick main in my hands, her forehead on mine, my arms around her shoulders as she wiggles in my embrace trying to kiss every inch of my face.

But she’s not there

Instead, I’m greeted by the images of the last two and a half months. The panting and pacing. The extra skiddishness. The late nights of getting her to the yard to eliminate because she can’t get up on her own. The smell of diarrhea and urine. The fear of losing my best friend. The realization that she is suffering and everything I can do for her is just a bandaid fix. The realization that she is choosing to not eat because she is fully aware of the same.

When I’m met with the empty void, I’m smacked with the memory of carrying her in my arms and how oddly comfortable it feels as we walk into the doctor’s office together for the last time. Letting her lay on my body with my sweet baby girl on my left and my adoring husband on my right as we squeeze together on a tiny couch meant for two very small people. The panting and wheezing. The sudden burst of love when the doctor administers the anesthesia and she can’t feel the pain any more. The stillness and softness of her breath. The weight of her body. The limpness when she was suppose to be so rigid and reactive to my every movement. Laying her on the floor expecting her to look up to see where I was going. Not being able to move because she hates being left alone, and in a doctor’s office no less! Realizing I’m the one who is, and perhaps always was, afraid to be alone.

ebonyShe hid so much of her pain. When she would chase her ball as we played in the street, her paws became so bloody, but she refused to stop running and playing. When I hid the ball to take care of her, she would limp and then lay down. She always took care of me and hid what she was feeling. That strength she showed was the only thing that made me leave her lifeless body. She had so much courage for me. I needed to have the same courage for my family, put on my big-girl pants, and go on living.

But where does the grieving process fit in? With so much work to do, a house that has been neglected in the chaos, a family to take care of, and a marketing degree to finish, who has time to just fall apart? How do I efficiently and effectively answer the question of “How are you?” without losing my shit and yet wanting to be real with my close friends and family? I know I’ve been on the other side wanting to comfort someone who has suffered a great loss and it’s tough. I never know what to say. Now here I am suffering the greatest loss of my life and I’m trying so hard to keep it together. I’m trying to keep my focus on the ball and forget that my paws are bleeding. To the many sweet and loving people who have expressed concern: I’m sorry, I don’t know what to say or how to be. My world is upside down. Thank you for loving me. I have a drive to reciprocate and take care of you, but I can’t and I feel shitty for it.

Right about here, I’m compelled to add that if you’re reading this and thinking “it was just a dog,” I must encourage you to stop reading now and find your way to a compassionate life that embraces and respects all sentient beings and abandon the “us” and “them” mentality; its making you a miserable human being.

There is so much more I have to say, but since it’s almost time to get to work, I must leave it here for now.

December 16, 2016 – It is one month later. I’ve finished my finals and life has slowed down a bit. I still feel the loss every day. There is a new set of tiny clacking nails on the wood floors, but it’s not the same. There were so many days when I was in absolute disbelief that she was gone. How can she go from walking around just fine in July and then gone four months later? At breakfast on November 8 after we said good-bye, I had the realization that someday she will be a distant ghost of a memory. This being that was so close to my heart would someday be so far. Dogs will come and go and I will love them all. We may move. I may change. Life will happen. The world will change and the beautiful wooden box will still hold what use to be her. Will I keep her box forever? Will it somehow become a special family heirloom? 

Here is my wish …

I wish I could bury her as a tree in a place where I could always visit. It would not be a place to morn, but a special place to remember that death is part of life and every part of both can be beautiful. It would be a special place to remember my purpose and from where I came. And all the others that come into my life, who find peace, who find enlightenment would be able to join her creating a beautiful forest representing the beautiful beings that once graced this earth. And someday, I will be buried in this Forest of Ancestors and someday my children and their children will forever be able to come to this forest to find peace. They may not know of Ebony or me, but the feeling would be the same no matter who they are visiting or why they are visiting.

Déjà Vu

Cassandra woke up screaming for the third time that week. Sweat beaded on her forehead; her body was cold, damp and heavy. Remnants of a nightmare clung to her brain; the terror caught in her throat and chest. Each night she had the same dream, yet the vision and memories were slower and slower to fade. Each night the dream intensified.

Crying, she sat up, wrapped her arms around her legs and buried her face in her blanketed knees. She heard the crash and clambering that could only be her dad running down the hall half asleep. She peered up at the clock on her dresser. It was just after two in the morning. She was thankful for summer break. Rest was not coming easy these days. She was glad to stay in bed after these episodes that left her exhausted and emotionally drained.

Through the darkness, she could see her dad’s crouched shadow looming in her bedroom door. He walked clumsily to her bed and wrapped his arms around her.

“Did you have a bad dream again?” He held her and stroked her hair. He was always there for her.

Cassandra nodded, but something inside kept scrambling and confusing the words she desperately wanted to tell him. She looked up into his eyes, happy to be in his arms, yet she struggled to articulate, struggled to remember. There was something she had to tell him.
Hopeless, she cried harder and buried her face into his chest.


The next morning she couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling the dream had left. As odd and as troubling as it was, she couldn’t help feeling as if she felt this same uneasiness before. She felt a little silly holding her stuffed bunny like she use to, but it always made her feel better.

I don’t care if I am fourteen, she thought to herself as she cuddled it tighter. She normally kept it on a high shelf in her room as a memento from her young childhood, but something drew her to it.

As she stroked the fur around her bunny’s eyes with her thumbs, she remembered how her mom gave it to her in the weeks leading up to a trip to her grandmother’s house miles away from home. She had just turned six that summer.

“I know you’re feeling nervous about your first week away from home,” she remembered her mother saying, “So I got you a little something to take with you.” She was so warm then.

It was true she was a little nervous about being away from home for a week, but her anxiety felt like so much more than that.
Her mom presented the stuffed floppy bunny with a pink ribbon around its neck and then gave Cassandra a comforting hug.

She looked at the now old and dirty bunny in her lap and remembered how it use to smell just like her mom. She remembered breathing in the smell deeply to make her anxiety go away. She felt the uneasiness then just like she felt it now. She breathed in deeply. It smelled like old forgotten tears. Memories began trickling back into her consciousness. The nightmares. Helen.

She cried again reliving the memories.

She tried to warn her mom. She didn’t want to go to Grandma’s house. It wasn’t just a fear of being homesick. She saw. Her nightmares told her, but no one would listen to her. She found it so strange, so frustrating that she could tell her mom and dad about other dreams and nightmares, but the ones that seemed so real and so terrible could not be articulated no matter how hard she would try.

That was the summer she lost her sister.

Helen was only four. She didn’t understand. The pool looked covered and she thought she could walk on it. Not wanting to be bossed around by her older sister, she stepped out onto the tarp that covered the pool in their grandma’s back yard. Cassandra watched in horror as Helen sank like a stone. Cassandra ran to get help, but by the time she came back, Helen was wrapped up in the tarp, still and cold, just as she had been in her nightmares.

The therapist called her story of the nightmares her way of coping with the tragedy. It was just a story that Cassandra contrived in order to believe she could have stopped it from happening. She eventually let the memories fade from her mind.

Her mother was beside herself. She became withdrawn and distant. She has never been the same since. She missed her mother terribly.
A fresh wave of emotions consumed her and she cried herself to sleep.


When she woke the next day, she was fully conscious of her dream. Although it terrified her, she no longer woke screaming. In her dream, she felt her heart catch in her throat as the phone rang for the third time. Picking it up, she tried to steady her hand. She pressed the receiver to her ear and felt the dread drain the blood from her face. She heard a man’s voice it was Officer Kipley, her dad’s buddy who dropped by from time to time. There had been a robbery at the bank. Her dad was dead. She felt her stomach drop. Somehow the phone left her hand and she was retching on the kitchen floor. After that, everything went dark.

She knew deep down that this was not just a nightmare. She knew this was a premonition just like the one she had so many years ago. She knew she wouldn’t be able to tell anyone and even if she did get the words out, she knew no one would believe her. Perhaps if I cannot warn him, she thought to herself, perhaps I can change his fate myself.

She threw her covers off, jumped out of bed with determination, and ran downstairs to the kitchen. Breakfast was sitting on the counter: bacon and eggs with toast. Her mother was sitting at the kitchen table gazing out the window, as she so often did. She didn’t seem to notice Cassandra when she came in.

“Morning, Mom.” She wrapped her arms around her mother’s shoulders from behind and kissed her on the cheek. Her mom touched her arm lightly. Cassandra always thought this was just how she was, but she could suddenly see the never-ending sorrow from losing her baby.

She needed to come up with a plan to keep her dad away from the bank, but she was suddenly consumed by the loneliness she felt in her mothers presence. She ate her breakfast slowly, wishing there was something she could do.

Just then her dad came into the kitchen gathering his keys, wallet, and phone.

“Ok, I’m running out for a bit before my evening shift. Need anything while I’m out?” he asked as he quickly grabbed a piece of toast to go.

“Eggs.” Her mother said. “We ran out of eggs.”

“Where are you going?” Cassandra asked.

“I’m just going to run a few errands. I need to make sure this check gets deposited and then I can pick up a few things from the store…” he looked around for a notepad and pen. “Ah, here we go.” They were hiding in the junk drawer. “Eggs” he said scribbling in the notepad.

“Please don’t go.” Cassandra begged her dad.

“I’ll be back soon.”

“Let’s make your favorite cookies instead! We’ll cuddle and watch football!”

“First of all, honey, it’s summer. We’re in the off season. Second, we’re out of eggs. Can’t make those cookies without them. We can make cookies after I get eggs, and after I deposit this check. Maybe we can even smuggle them into an air conditioned movie theater.”

“Can I go with you?”

“To the theater? Of course!”

“No, can I run errands with you?”

He looked down at his watch. “How fast can you get ready?”

“I’ll be ready in five minutes!” She ran upstairs, threw on the first outfit she could find, and quickly brushed her teeth.

They were out the door in no time.

She felt so grateful to be with her dad. She savored every moment. They talked the whole way to the bank. As they reached the driveway, she could feel the anxiety catch in her throat. He parked in front of the front doors and ATMs.

“I’ll be quick. You can wait here.”

“I’m coming with you.”

He looked confused. “Ok.”

They both jumped out of the car. As she reached for the doors, she saw him stop at the ATM. He pulled out his wallet, inserted his card, tapped the screen, took out the check, placed it in an envelope, and inserted it in the machine. He gave it a few more taps and the machine spit out his card.

“Ready?”

“Uh, yeah.” She was both confused and relieved.

They continued talking and bonding throughout the rest of the errands. She felt so lighthearted and grateful. She had an amazing day. It was so simple yet so meaningful. They made cookies together and snuck them into a matinee like he had promised.

When they returned home, the three of them sat down to an early dinner. They all talked like never before. Her mother even seemed to have some of her old sparkle back. After dinner, her dad went upstairs, changed into his police uniform, and kissed Cassandra and her mom goodnight.

After dinner she and her mom cuddled on the couch and fell asleep watching reruns of old TV shows.


The phone rang, startling her out of a deep sleep. The TV was still on and flickered with police lights from some breaking news piece. Her mom must have turned down the volume before she went to bed. Her heart was racing and her head was spinning. In a daze, she tried to wrap her head around what woke her up.

The phone rang again. Mystery solved. How long had she been asleep? It was dark outside. Everything seemed wrong and yet so familiar.

Then the phone rang for the third time and her heart caught in her throat. Déjà vu.

She picked up the receiver and pressed it to her ear. “Officer Kipley.” She whispered.

“Hey kiddo,” He sounded like he was trying to keep chipper. “Is your mom available?”

Something about the television caught her eye. It was a helicopter view of the same bank they visited earlier that day. “Why are there police cars at the bank?”

“I’m so sorry, Cassy. I was hoping to call before either of you saw the reports.”

“What’s going on?”

“Listen, there was a bank robbery. It ended in a shootout. Your dad was shot.”

Already knowing the answer, she asked with hope “Will he be ok?”

“I’m so sorry, Cass. It was a fatal wound. Please, let me speak to your mother.”

She walked the phone slowly up the stairs thinking about the last time her mom received devastating news. She was so afraid of what this would do to her. She gently woke her mom and handed the phone to her. She sat with her as she received the news. The phone falling from her hand. Her mom screaming in agony. She wrapped her arms around her and together they cried.

“Mom,” she said between sobs. “Please stay with me. You’re all I have left. I need you to be strong. We can get through this together.”

And just like that she saw that, although she may not have been able to change anyone else’s fate, she had the power to change her own.

The Lowland and Theory

thelowlandAbstract

By reading The Lowlands from an ecocentric perspective, we can see how Lahiri uses  the natural environment to illustrate ubiquitous patterns and paradigms that are echoed within the lives of her characters. By using ubiquitous, natural paradigms, the reader is prompted to observe the complex issues of the characters as a scientist observes nature. Ecocriticism is a modern field of study that focuses on how humans connect with nonhuman nature or the environment in literary texts and typically focuses on environmental awareness (Barry 254). In The Lowlands, Jhumpa Lahiri uses the environment to establish a paradigm or structure in which the characters inhabit. In using natural paradigms to illustrate complex moments of the narrative, Lahiri is subtly requesting that we observe these moments no differently than if we were scientists making similar observations in nature: objectively and without judgment. When we observe these ubiquitous connections objectively, we gain a deeper understanding for universal life.

English 102 Study Guide

I am bound and determined to understand these concepts since my final is fast approaching. In my experience, the best way to fully understand something is to teach it to someone else … that’s where you come in, my dear blog readers! I will be adding sections to this as I go, so if you have any questions, feel free to post and I will answer as best I can.

Logical Fallicies

Here is a link to my Prezi presentation about the fallacies of relevance. I scored 100% on it and the professor noted: “This is the best presentation I’ve seen thus far! Excellent work!” If you need help understanding the logical fallacies of relevance, check out my Prezi!

Ecocriticism
From Beginning Theory by Peter Barry

Ecocriticism is a new movement which studies of the relationship between literature and the physical environment. In the UK it is referred to as “green studies,” but the difference between the two is that there is a tendency for the American writing to be celebratory in tone, whereas the British variation tends to warn of environmental threats spreading from governmental, industrial, commercial and neo-colonial forces.

The relationship between culture and nature indicates some of the debates within ecocriticism. For the ecocritic, nature really exists, out there beyond ourselves, not needing to be ironized as a concept by enclosure within knowing quotation marks, but actually present as an entity which affects us, and which we can affect, perhaps fatally, if we mistreat it. Nature, then, isn’t reducible to an idea which we think up as part of our cultural practice. Theory in general tends to see our external world as socially and linguistically constructed, but ecocriticism calls this long-standing theoretical doctrine into question.

The ecocentered reading focuses outside on the house and its environs, rather than inside, on the owner and his psychology. It uses the ideas of energy, entropy, and symbiosis. Thus, the house exists as an isolated entropic system which has no symbiotic connections at all with the broader biosphere.

Hurdles and Stumbles

Dear Readers,

It’s been so long since I’ve written a blog post. I’ve been wanting to write this for a while now. I’ve been feeling so uninspired lately and I’m losing steam. As much as I would love to report success in all areas of my life, I also feel the need be true to life … and life is full of stumbles and hurdles.

I got a B+ on my last essay. It was unimaginative, forced, and put off to the last minute. Every time we learn a new type of literary criticism in class, it brings new hurdles to wrap my brain around. I feel myself trying to shift into a more mature tone worthy of college level writing, but in the shift find myself in new uncharted territory. It’s as if I’ve never had a creative thought in my life and it’s very discouraging.

And yet, the more discouraged I feel, the harder I work at organizing my life so that I can focus on the unknown. When I’m at my wall, I want nothing more than to purge. My random collections seeming so heavy with responsibility; things taking up vital memory space. Each item acting as a metaphor for the chatter in my head. Oh! to work with a blank canvas and silence!

And so, my Dear Readers, I’m happy to report that as I find my legs outside of the writing closet, I’m challenged with hurdles and stumbles and, although I am aching to throw in the towel (or at the very least retreat back to the safety of the closet), I’m pressing on, care be damned!