The Lowland and Theory


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!

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!

The Cupboards are Empty and Money is Tight

The cupboards are empty and money is tight
Said I to my wee pages unfilled
There will be no dinner tonight

And though I try with focus and might
The fields of imagination untilled
The cupboards are empty and money is tight

Inspiration lay no where in sight
My dreams of expression killed
There will be no dinner tonight

My guide, unsympathetic to my plight
My pen, unmoving and stilled
The cupboards are empty and money is tight

And so my wee pages lay pristine and white
My thoughts obstructed, intimidated, unskilled
The cupboard is empty and money is tight
There will be no dinner tonight

The Free-Write

I’ve always had a love for journals. Not empty ones, though. I love the feel of crinkly abused pages; pages that have been written all over front and back with a rough, feverish pen; pages that have been pressed and scribbled on from top to bottom and seem to be able to stand on their own.

A fresh journal with its perfect pages that lay flat against each other entices visions of possibilities: adventures to be had, deep thoughts to be expressed, secrets to be set free.

Yet when I open a beautifully bound journal with its perfect pages, all I see are blank lines in front of me begging to be fed. The vastness of the blank page scares off any inspiration I may have had, and like a poor, destitute mother, I struggle to express to my starving children that there will be no dinner tonight.

Coming Out

The other day when I published a letter to my family, two things happened: 1) I found some profound perspective and 2) I think I officially “came out.”

Just a little bit about the perspective. The feedback I got was completely unexpected. I half hoped it would get buried in the feeds never to be seen, but it was a message I needed to get out about my past in order to provide healing for others as well as myself. Some expressed their love for me and for our friendship, another told me how they simply let those little things go because they can empathize. The part that kept ringing in my ears was my sister’s bullet points 2 and 4: [paraphrase] you don’t fit in, and [paraphrase] nobody likes you. These are the knives that have been cutting at my soul my whole life. These are the glasses with which I’ve been looking at the world. For the first time ever, I’ve been able to take those glasses off and throw them in the trash once and for all.

Anther piece of feedback I got was that it was clear, had good theory, and was well organized. To all of those who follow my blog, Jumbles & Jots: True Confessions of a Closet Writer, I’d like to make the following announcement: I’m a writer.

It’s been very hard to stay in the closet these past few months. I’m finally back in college, majoring in English, and taking English Composition-HONORS. I kept wondering if I was in the right place, and worrying about being able to keep up. I am now working on my final essay and I am happy to report that I’m passing with flying colors. My most recent essay “Changing the Course of Childhood Obesity” will be published on My Food Therapy Voyage blog soon.

Thank you for your support! I hope to write more pieces for your enjoyment.

Open Letter to My Family

Dear Sister and Family,

It seems I must reiterate the reason I am distancing myself from you because I keep getting messages from you that seem threatening, bullying, and guilt tripping–the exact reasons I am pushing you away. I have left the door open for when you choose to treat me differently and do the right thing. When you say “… I will only say a few things and be completely done with you,” I’m left with the impression that anything I say in response will fall on deaf ears. And so, I’ve been inspired to blog my response. I know it’s a bit dramatic and airing dirty laundry, but I would like to use this context to say a few things to anyone who ever knew me. I wish to use this platform to call myself out on the way I’ve treated others and sincerely apologize.

“ will live to regret this. Promise.”

I wonder if you’re aware how threatening you sound. Tone aside, no, I don’t enjoy pushing my family away. Far from it. However, having no “blood” family is better than being abused by them. Yes, threatening, bullying, and guilt tripping are abusive and no one should have to put up with it.

“2. You’re right, you don’t fit in with us because you have never tried and always caused the drama (despite your warped reality, you are dripping drama)”

Are you really telling me that I have to TRY to fit into my own family? I knew this all along, but for you to put it down in black and white is both disappointing and relieving. I’m disappointed because the myth I was suppose to believe all these years is an obvious lie. “Blood is thicker than water,” “family sticks together,” “unconditional love” are nothing more than propaganda used for your own benefit. I feel immense relief because I’m not the only one who sees this as our family dynamic.

About the drama. You are absolutely right. I am not perfect. I never was, nor will I ever be. Yes, I caused a lot of drama. Even worse, I bullied, threatened, and guilt tripped a lot of people just like you all did to me. I loath the person I was: the person I twisted myself into being to TRY to fit in with you. I was sad, angry and lonely. Of course I caused a lot of drama.

To everyone I ever bullied, I owe you the most sincere apology from the bottom of my heart. You did not deserve my cruelty. I was cold, judgmental, and an overall mean-spirited person. There are a few people I know of who got mad and when they did, I acted like a victim. I wish I had the understanding then that what was being done to me was WRONG and not the norm. I hurt so many people with the only language I ever knew and I’ve lost so many friends because of it. I am so sorry. I strive to work on myself in order to be less of a drama-queen. If there is anyone out there who needs to be angry with me to get those feelings off your chest, please contact me. I will listen with remorse and I will not defend.

“3.the 3 of us get along just fine and have grown closer in response to your shunning. You will never get back the time you are wasting and you will never have the relationship we all do because we are sticking together and growing out of our hurt from you.”

I’m glad you are growing closer together. No, I will never get this time back, but with the way you choose to treat me, I would not trade this time in for the world. Life is too short to suffer abuse of any kind.

“4.who do you get along with? Anyone? Any family? Any long term friends? Maybe working on relationships rather than being a victim to tiny little offenses will help maintain relationships with valuable human beings who are not perfect. You seem as though you are looking for perfect people.”

You are absolutely right again. I find it difficult to get along with anyone. I’ve had a tendency to be judgmental, mean, condescending, authoritative, and cruel. I’m working on changing myself, though, and I will not let my bad behavior continue, nor will I allow myself to be a victim of it any longer.

There is some ugly truth to your mirror that I’m looking for perfect people. That would be the judgmental attitude we share. Remember how you said in your #2 bullet point how I don’t fit in because I never tried? Isn’t that saying that I have to be perfect in order to be accepted by you? I have tried my whole life to be accepted and I turned myself into an ugly, awkward, and uncomfortable-in-my-own-skin kind of person. The only life I have ever know is one of rejection. Of course I’m going to reject everyone around me. This is not to excuse my behavior, though! I am seeing the person I was and I am striving every day to change. Not to impress you or the family, but to be a better person for me. I want a better life for my daughter. I want to be comfortable in my own skin. I want to be a person who can easily manage challenges instead of whining about them and acting like a victim. I want to live a clean and ethical life for myself and everyone around me.

“5.kc deserves better. The end. I’m done hurting over you. KC will find us one day and we will be here for her. Can’t say the same about you.”

First of all, let’s be honest. When you say “I’m done hurting over you” you sound over dramatic. I don’t remember a time when you ever displayed anything besides judgment and contempt for me. Even my friends thought you seemed like a snob (to put it lightly). The last time we may have been close was when we were 8 and 10. You sound so manipulative and petty.

But yes, I agree. My sweet Kathryn deserves better. I wish she had a mother who just KNEW how to be a good mother. I wish healthy behavior came easy to me. When I see “me” come out in her it scares me. But when I see the drama-queen come out, I’m so grateful that I know what I know and that I can give her the help that was never given to me. I (with the help of my team) can teach her to live a healthy, ethical life. If the day ever comes when she wants to know more about where her mother came from, I look to you to welcome her.

My door is still open for when you choose to treat me better and do the right thing.

Happy New Year!

I have recently come to terms with the fact that I’m not much of a blogger. However, with the turn of another year, I find myself compelled to review my year in the form of a blog post.

I set out on my 2013 journey in hopes of either finding a job or improving my career direction. I started getting paid for my volunteer work, then received a raise months later. A few months after that, I took on a new roll that provided more training and experience as well as better pay. This alone marks my year as a complete success … HOWEVER, it didn’t end there. In addition to financial improvements, I found my direction. I discovered what I enjoy in life.

It’s true: I like writing, drawing, and being generally crafty. What really inspires me, though, is figuring out problems with programs or websites. Logic. I can see the way data can and should be organized to maximize the efficiency of collecting, storing, and ultimately reporting or reviewing. It may be boring to everyone else, but I’m positively tickled pink by it all. I tend to geek out … a lot.

Yes, it was a great year for self-discovery and career direction.

2013 was a year of gratitude. So many opportunities came to us. Even when trials came our way, I’m so proud of the strength we had to endure them. Each trial brought a deeper and more profound sense of gratitude.

As this year comes to a close, I think of all we’ve been through and all we’ve accomplished. I’m filled with awe and appreciation. My hope for the coming year is clean up what we’ve been working on and make a tighter performance. 2011 was the year for mental health and improvement. 2012 was the year for physical health. 2013 was the year of financial and career improvement. 2014 will be the year of cleaning, organizing, clearing out, decluttering, and straightening up!

The Artist vs. The Writer

As I sit here trying to materialize the “perfect” wording to describe the adventures I had with my daughter the other day I’m hit hard with the realization that not everyone can write.  I believe anyone can draw … especially since I can do it … and there are plenty of others who are better than me.

Drawing involves hand-eye coordination and truly observing what is in front of you.  Pulling something out of one’s head takes more practice since it comes from inside and it’s not tangible.  Writing on the other hand is not so easy.  It’s observing, but instead of making universally understood marks into universally understood shapes, one uses words and language to craft an idea.  Writing is nothing more than an intangible idea.  One can read an author’s words describing a sky so blue that the depth of the aqua tints brings tears of joy to the eyes and wells of emotion in the depths of the soul, but all that is real is the page with marks in a patterned code that only a select few may understand.  What is “aqua”?  What is the difference between tint and shade?  No comprendo.  Je ne parle pas l’anglais.  Scheist.  (I wanted to include a clip of Kid’s in the Hall: Brain Candy, but I couldn’t find the “I don’t speak German” bit.  The nipples of Mother Hope have run dry.)

To really understand what an author is saying (even then it’s still fractional), is to see into their soul for a brief moment.  The ideas that can only be contained in one’s head are as fleeting and as tangible as wisps of cirrostratus clouds high in the outer atmosphere of this spinning rock we are privileged to call home.

Books have always been my best friends, but I never gave much thought to the people who have applied themselves to each piece I found comfort in.  How spoiled and ungrateful I’ve been to overlook such a deep and profound notion.  I have always appreciated the great works of Monet, Manet, Degas, and David.  They captured a moment in time and told stories through each brush stroke, every color choice, and each use of proportion and space.  Shakespeare, Twain, Bronte, and Dickens, however, used nothing more than language and rhythm to craft their stories and ideas.  They used the unseen chemistry of characters to paint the picture of the spinning atoms that bond or repel which create the almost tangible breath of life all around us.

At times I feel overwhelmed by this desire to tell a story.  Any story.  I see so much life around me and I want to capture it.  What I see is so beautiful and I want to share it with the world!  Sometimes what I see is not as simple as a drawing or a photograph.  Sometimes it’s a style.  Sometimes it’s a poem.  Sometimes it’s a string of words and sentences twisted and turned to create a picture.  I have a lot of hopes and dreams and I tend to be as wild and unpredictable as the wind, but the goal of expression has remained constant.  (The clip of Joanna quitting from Office Space would have been nice right here, but alas, no such luck.)  Dr. Faye sees me as an artist, but whatever I am, I’d rather not wear a label.  It would be like capturing a warm autumn breeze scented with the crisp falling leaves of the red and gold maples in a jar.