Now that a little back story has been given, I want to just explain a couple of other things and then I feel like everything should be able to flow together without anyone being confused as to what is happening. I have been toying with the title “Two Sides Of The Fence” for a couple of years now. It was meant to be, and still someday might become, the title for a book I have been writing in my head for most of my life. The title is both figurative and literal in a sense, I am two different people. I have lived two different lives, two completely different personalities… and so on and so forth. So my blog will jump back and forth between those two people. The man I was before 2013, and the man that I have become since. The fence is the literal part, because while it truly did separate me from the outside world, physically, it separated me from a lot more than that. Drugs turned me into a different person, and it was a person that not a lot of people cared for deep down, but prison… Prison turned me into yet another one, and as you will come to find out if you keep reading this blog, it was NOT always for the better.
I finally got involved in a Methadone treatment program when I was 22 years old, but retrospectively my only concern was having a safe guard in case I didn’t have any Oxy. My older brother, Larry, to this day, is the best friend I have ever had. My dad died when I was younger so Larry was left with the responsibility of teaching me how to be a man since I am 5 years younger. The problem is, nobody taught Larry how to do it properly in the first place. My father (who is not Larry’s biological father) treated him and my mother like a punching bag instead. It was of no surprise to me that Larry turned out the way he did. My brother was a certified fucking bad ass, but he had a mean streak. Regardless, I loved him anyway, I idolized him in fact. I still do. Larry committed suicide the summer of 2010, and to this day I am convinced that a part of me died with him that day. Shortly after this time period, as I was desperate to relieve some of the pain, I discovered heroin. Heroin worked a lot faster than the pills did, and it was significantly cheaper. Ironic, isn’t it? We always crushed the Oxys up into powder and snorted them, and for a short time this was how I was ingesting my heroin as well, but this was a period of discovery for me because I quickly graduated to injecting it. It was decidedly more efficient. And I am a fucking sucker for efficiency. Shooting heroin did as good of a job as you might think at helping me cope with my brother’s death. That is to say, it was just a very expensive, very disgusting, and detrimental distraction. Somehow I managed to survive for 3 more years as a functioning heroin addict. Well, somewhat functioning. I’m sure I thought I looked better than I was, and I’m sure I thought that nobody at work suspected that I was the one stealing tips off of other peoples’ tables at work. In retrospect, I don’t think I was doing as good of a job of hiding it as I thought. In the summer of 2013 I was charged, and subsequently convicted, of two counts of 1st degree aggravated robbery, illegal possession of a fire arm, kidnapping to facilitate a felony or flight, 1st degree burglary, and aggravated assault. I was sentenced to 88 months in prison, and I was released just this last January from one of Minnesota’s maximum security prisons after spending about 5 years straight inside. I got my GED out of boredom while I was in county jail going through my trial, but it wasn’t until a few years, and more than a few more mistakes later that I began thinking about how I could use my experience to maybe help someone some day. I got out, I enrolled in school, and now I plan to do just that. I am still a little rough around the edges, I am still more than my fair share of brash and arrogant, and sometimes a little intense even. But if you don’t like it – go fuck yourself. Haha, no, I’m kidding. The only thing I ask to anyone reading any of this is to not take anything personally.
A lot of you might be wondering who I am, or what I am doing here. And a lot you might also be wondering just where I got my devastating good looks, and amazing sense of style, but that is for a different blog post altogether. This will probably be a lot of information to absorb so I am going to split it into two posts so as not to overwhelm with information. I am 32 years old, and I have been a drug addict, in one form or another, since I was 14. So, in a lot of ways, I have been 14 years old for 18 years now, haha. It started off innocently enough, smoking weed and drinking here and there. And soon I was the guy nobody invited to parties anymore because I beat someone up for no reason (well, no reason to anyone else), or because I threw up all over someone’s grandmother’s rug. You get the idea. When I was 18 I discovered Oxycontin. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is an extended release pain killer containing the drug “Oxycodone.” It is for around the clock treatment for severe pain. To me it felt like my eyes had just opened for the first time. I couldn’t believe the world had been keeping this from me for so long, I decided then and there that I wanted to feel that way all the time. Life doesn’t exactly work out the way we want it to, however. The hardest part about staying fucked up on Oxy is running out of Oxy. And I didn’t know of any shady, back room doctors like they always seem to have in abundance on television. Being an opiate addict is a full time job. Even when you have enough to get you through the rest of the day, then it’s time to focus on what you’re going to do the NEXT day, because withdrawal just is not a viable option. At least not one that any self respecting junkie willingly accepts that is. I am starting to get to the part that I don’t like to talk about so I am going to end this one here and I will probably write another post tomorrow.
This was a lot simpler in my head. Isn’t it always? I have been wracking my brain for weeks trying to figure out how I am going to turn my idea for this blog into an actual blog. One that someone might be interested in reading. There are a lot of things I would like to write about, but my problem is, and has been, cohesion. How can I say things in such a way that would make sense to people who don’t even know me. And my answer? I don’t fucking know. So, I am going to do what I always do, I am just going to write and see where it takes me. I am going to use my first couple of posts to give a little context in hopes that it will help anyone who may read any of the things I write understand where I am coming from, so to speak. I will start off by introducing who I am, or at least the way I see myself, and some of my theories on addiction. At least my own personal addiction issues. It is my solemn hope that anyone who may be struggling with these types of problems figure out a way to deal with them, because as you will start to see as you read on, there are some pretty viscous consequences that come along with them.
My final reflection. Well, isn’t this bitter-sweet? To the 1-2 people who will ever actually read this, you can rest assured that I will keep on reflecting long after this post is complete. Unless, of course, I turn into a vampire. Get it? No? Whatever, I thought it was funny. It’s almost 1:30PM on Friday, however, so if I don’t get this one finished I may have to take this course again next semester and then you all (yea, all 1-2 of you) will have to endure my long winded reflections for another 3 months. Anyway, I am pretty embarrassed to admit that I did not know a whole lot about citing before I read this article and I have been a writer, in some form, for my entire life. Even more embarrassingly, I am only 100% sure of one thing: I still don’t think I get it completely, haha. I always enjoy learning about new things, especially as they pertain to something that I am genuinely passionate about, but I would never have guessed how little I actually know about this craft. I mean, they are just words, what is so complicated about that? Apparently a lot of things. The cleverness and the wit certainly jumped out at me, though. In my opinion, the best writers are the ones that can incorporate a little humor into things, and someone told me I was funny once and I never stopped running with it. Even when I should. I guess, in a nut shell, I would say that the more I learn about things like this, I wonder if I will ever make a good writer in any academic sense. Because I find it hard to care about things like citing, and rough drafts, and other things of that nature. I always felt that writing should come, and even flow, naturally. Cutting and pasting and editing so much seems so – tedious. I suppose, that is one thing highlighted in this article, though. Sometimes you have to break out of your comfort zone in order to break into someone else’s.
This essay, which is actually a chapter in an open textbook (Readings On Writing by Kyle Stedman) is an instruction manual of sorts on how to properly cite your writing. In a rather humorous way, Mr. Stedman gives us step-by-step instructions on some of the more commonly fumbled citing techniques. He uses actual examples from some former students to educate us newer students on the finer do’s and don’ts of quoting sources, and even gives specific instructions on how to fix and prevent these mistakes. He explains that even though some of these things aren’t rules, per se, they are still important and depending on who is reading them, could be more important than some might think, and he also does his best to explain if and when we should bend some of these unspoken (that are now officially spoken) rules.
(some key points and main ideas)
- “Armadillo Roadkill” – Dropping in a quotation without introducing it first. FIX – Return to each quote and make sure you set it up first
- “Dating Spiderman” – Starting/ending a paragraph with a quote. FIX – Similarly, return to each quote and make sure you lead away from it as well
- “Uncle Barry and his encyclopedia of useless information” – Using too many questions in a row FIX – Return to each quote, decide why it is there and massage it in accordingly
- “Am I in the right movie?“- Failing to integrate a quotation into the grammar of the preceding sentence. FIX – Read out loud to yourself or to someone else and if you stumble as you enter into a quotation, see if there is something you can adjust to make the transition smoother.
- “I can’t find the stupid link!” – No connection between the parenthetical citation and the first letter of a works cited entry. FIX – Make sure that the first word of the works cited entry is the word you use in your text citation, every time.
- “I swear I did some research” – Dropping in a citation without making it clear what information came from what source. FIX – Write the sentences preceding the citation with specific words and phrases that will tell the readers what information came from where.
It might have been slightly beneficial before my reading of this article to know exactly what citing was and how it is normally used, but per my usual nature I am about to try and talk about something as if I actually know what the fuck I am talking about, and although I am relieved to finally know, I will be sure to inquire more as soon as the opportunity presents itself. I do, however, like the fact the she not only gives specific instructions, but also examples, so I was able to gather the gist fairly quickly. One thing I will say to the contrary is that I wish it was a little clearer, but he does explain the most common mistakes that college students make when quoting sources, as well as how to fix them. I will say, the best part about the way it was written, as well as the perspective, is that it followed a specific subject matter. The couple of times I tried to research it before (less than I would like to admit) it jumped around a lot.
The really bizarre (yea, that’s right, I said bizarre) thing about reading this article, aside from the ironic title,at least for me, is I kind of already do read this way. I have always, sometimes detrimentally and obsessively, questioned the author’s intentions when I read things. And even while I watch television or movies, as well. When I was younger, I had really bad ADHD, but I also LOVED to read, which is not a good combination let me tell you, so I had to train myself to read every word, one in front of the other, sometimes several times, and in doing so I always caught myself wondering what I might do differently with the wording, or with the plot itself. I have always gotten bored rather quickly, and my vanity knows no bounds, so of course I generally always thought it could be better. Except for maybe the “Harry Potter” series, which I found to be perfect. And maybe I still do. At any rate, I have often felt like I have a better understanding of the things I read, or watch on television, because of my ability to picture the story that way, from the writer’s perspective. I seem to be able to see things coming before they actually do, using only the cues the author WANTS us to see, though not many actually see them. In fact, on more occasions than I can count, this “ability” has thoroughly annoyed the people around me. I have even been accused of reading or watching something previously and then lied about it. Haha, to what end? So that I could later read it or watch it with someone else, and be able to outwardly guess at the majority of it to sound smart? Please. Instead, it is because I have been using these techniques ever since I can remember. So, what does reading like a writer mean to me? Everything. I am not sure I would be able to enjoy it otherwise. I was a reader before I was a writer, after all.
“How To Read Like A Writer” is an article written by Dr. Mike Bunn that explains how different the world of reading (and writing) can be when looked at from the other’s perspective. Generally speaking, it is an explanation of how to read a book, magazine, article, essay, or any piece of text and imagine it from the writer’s point of view. Instead of reading for pleasure, research, or for a school assignment, reading it by examining word choices, context, and even sentence structure to try and figure out why the author made the decisions he/she did; to ask yourself questions while reading. Examining instead of merely breezing through it. Reading to learn about writing, if you will. He goes on to explain that most writing teachers are so focused on teaching writing, they forget to show us how they want us to read, and examine the details in the choices they make. Because that is what writing is; a series of choices. Dr. Bunn teaches us in his article that the goal shouldn’t necessarily be to simply get through the text and harness its entertainment value, but to train ourselves to formulate questions as we read based on whatever we happen to notice in the text, since everyone notices different things.
(analysis of “…And By Islands I Mean Paragraphs”)
This writing was a little past the right amount of cryptic for my taste, and I love a good metaphor. In my opinion, I see this as a little more like visual art than your average written word, particularly with its modular format. I had to Google more than a few things (what did we ever do before Google?) And in an analytical attempt to explain something that I am still not sure I fully understand myself, I will say that a lot of it seems to have more than one meaning. Each “Island” seems to be pieces of different stories, blurbs, and poems taken from some sort of Greek point of view, some of them clandestine, and some of them that down-right change as you read them. Literally. The beauty of a writing like this is in its inherent subjectivity. The piece does little to actually explain what you are reading, but instead takes you on a journey of its very own. After reading it, you may not have a concise idea of where exactly these Islands are or what they are truly called, but you certainly get a better picture of the writer himself. Which, after all, in my opinion is even better. If you can’t quite get a feel for what it is you’re reading, go for the next best thing: get a feel for who is writing it. Its art, what more is there to analyze?
(some key terms and main ideas)
- Ask “how”? – Ask yourself “How did the writer get me to feel?”
- RLW – stands for Reading Like a Writer
- Genre – a category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter
- Context – the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed
- Audience – the assembled spectators or listeners at a public event, such as a play, movie, concert, or meeting (or group of unassembled people who might one day read your writing)
- Transition -the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another
Now, here’s the thing. I have looked at a few of these posts from my peers, and in accordance with what I gathered from (Rettberg), instead of trying to analyze several individual pictures, I’m going to talk about this series of selfies and their respective, cumulative story. I met my fiance this last February. Every time she would leave my house, I would walk her to her car through my garage, and without fail I would have her stop, I would pull out my phone and snap a picture of us. I told her I wanted something to hold onto, even when she wasn’t there. These are the best types of selfies to have, and sharing them is a vulnerable experience because these WEREN’T taken several times until they were what we considered to be an appropriate self representation, and they aren’t filtered. I have quite a few of these selfies, and these ones tell an actual story, not a dramaturgic one. And just in case it isn’t obvious, this particular retrospective, but cumulative story – is of us falling in love.
Continuing in her pretentious, yet captivating style, chapter 3 is a close up look at the world of selfies. Relating to a lot of the things covered in the first and second chapters, Jill Rettberg almost ties all three of them together in this one. Self portraits, self representation and filtering are one and the same when it comes to the “selfie.” She covers the transition from the photo booth, to the digital camera with the ability to edit, to the smart phone, which is today’s top choice for our selfie needs. It also attempts to iterate that looking at a single picture on someone’s blog or timeline doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about that person. Rather, posts (and their attached selfie) are cumulative, and tell a story. The story isn’t always clear, but tend to give a surprising amount of insight. We also learn that people take selfies for different reasons, and not all of them are frivolous or vain ones. Conversely, some are very sad, albeit attempting to be informative at the same time.
(some key points and ideas)
- Metonym –Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is referred to by the name of something closely associated with that thing or concept (Wikipedia)
- Photo booth – The beginning of taking more than one picture and selecting the best. Filtering at its finest.
- Psychic Automatism – Attempting to capture in art (paintings, drawings, tattoos, photos) the actual functioning of a thought. Also called…
- Surrealism – A kind of “subculture” of subconscious art
- Viral Video – A video, a clip of a video, or sometimes a photograph that is rapidly spread through online sharing
- Cultural Filters – Help us determine the rituals, customs, and norms of a society or subculture
Whatever happened to “duck face”? Is that not a thing anymore? I remember shortly after the selfie kick started off, people were shaming each other for making that face. We don’t hear much ridicule anymore since a lot of people (mostly women) do it now. Which is kind of what is being explained in this chapter. So far, I am really intrigued by the book as a whole, but that isn’t to say that I agree with all of it. I enjoyed how the article began by explaining that looking at singular posts or pictures on a person’s timeline doesn’t give us significant insight into who they are or how they are feeling, but rather they tell a cumulative story a lot of the time, but not always. At least not the story we may be building inside our own heads. There are a few different points when describing some of these artists (Kalina and Brown) for example as having “expressionless faces” – but I think you’re missing the point. There faces aren’t expressionless, I believe we are seeing exactly what the artists intended us to see. Too often we are too focused on what we THINK we are supposed to be looking at in a photograph. They didn’t have exaggerated expressions, but they still had an expression. In my opinion. We are gravitationally fascinated by these pictures and videos because they are real. We watch videos of other peoples’ special occasions and award winning because we have a need to see people that are happier than we are, or appear to be, for vicarious moments. And we are drawn to the sad ones, of peoples’ cancer stories and heart ache to remind us how much we have to be grateful for. Another thing I disagree with, is some of the things in this article are expressed as fact, when I see them more as opinions. Sometimes the lighting is just off causing a smile to look like a smirk, pictures can tell us a lot, but they can be misleading. To paraphrase (Pellicer) … none of the resulting pictures will fully correspond with what we want to see in ourselves. And as humans, we tend to think we are smarter than we are, and we often read too much into things. Sometimes a picture is just a memory. And… well, a picture.