Sunday, December 6, 2015

Aimee- Writing and healing for war veterans reminds me of my time in Fred Wilcox's class. In Creative Nonfiction he shared his novel that he wrote giving voice to veterans of the Vietnam war and victims of Agent Orange. While he never personally went through war he felt it was his mission to share their story. We mentioned a couple times about writing to help others heal and writing to help yourself heal. I think for Fred it was very much the former but now I have to wonder how healed the people he interviewed felt. Wouldn't it better more effective if you could write through the experience yourself? I think the idea of getting veterans to directly connect with their experience it really important and it's cool to see that it's really working for some people. Of course I also think it's great that they're incorporating Buddhist practice into their writing/healing sessions. In my eyes combing those two things are the best way to heal.
The other source on creative nonfiction I think really gets to the heart of why I love/need to write. When I decide to tackle a personal piece I typically know what I'm trying to get to the heart of. A lot of times I write to work out my fears. Of the ocean, of death and impermanence, of losing my mom... By the end I can't say I've conquered the fear, but I don't think that was ever really the point. The point is to understand and learn to cope. Veterans know they can never forget about what they saw and did but there is a way to come to terms with it. Writing is healing because it gives you the chance to be honest and introspective.

Tess-Love letters to strangers is a lovely idea because it gets at people's loneliness and need to comfort others. It's both therapeutic for the writer and the receiver. The person who gets the letter gets to feel excited and touched that someone is thinking about them and care enough to write a whole bunch of words to them. It's nice to be thought of and to know someone out in the world cares abut you. Brencher experiences a type of healing that comes from being able to comfort others. People often feel like they can't do anything to make the world better but they can and it's always nice to see a reminder of that. I couldn't open any of the other thinks for some reason. But the article on transactional writing was really interesting. "What is healing, but a shift in perspective?" Writing letters connects with journal writing because it's a kind of like writing a letter to oneself. "Dear Diary," who else are you addressing but yourself. I used this method of healing all throughout grade school. It's effective because it gets the thoughts out of your head and on to the page. So letter writing to other people is even better because your thoughts go to someone else entirely. I often think about whether or not I should express strong feelings to someone in a letter but to be honest I've decided that if there's communication that needs to be had in order to heal it's important to say it aloud. I can't expect to heal all my sorrows with various letters.I like that the article adresses not having to send the letter and in fact might not even be a good idea. Again, when you write to heal for yourself it might be less helpful or even hurtful for someone to receive it. I've written countless unsent letters and I'm an advocate. Just believing someone will get the message is usually enough.

Friday, November 27, 2015

What I've decided for my paper is emotional literacy, specifically in boys, and how it might connect to the gender binary. Does assigning gender roles from birth affect how boys grow up versus girls? Since I only have sisters I can’t draw from personal experience but I think if I had a brother he would have been raised differently than we were. We know how the gender binary affects transgender people. If assigned to be a boy at birth they would grow up feeling very confused when everyone treated them as so but on the inside they feel it isn’t right. Also it isn’t just boy and girl, there is agender and gender fluid as well. Perhaps one of the questions I would raise in my paper would be, would dismantling the gender binary be better for causes like feminism and gender equality? Would removing the binary not only help the trans community but everyone in the world as well? Are labels such as male and female unnecessary in the grand scope of things? I want these questions to possibly connect back to emotional literacy and if there were no gender to differ us, would ideas like ‘men shouldn’t cry’ vanish from the world. 

I lied, I do have something from personal experience. I was talking to my sister about this who pointed out she was raised like a boy. It was always the joke that she was the son my father never had. And so she happily adopted all the son like qualities; fishing, catch, mowing the lawn. These were things I did too but they weren’t expected of me in the same way. It’s still like this today. By the end of our conversation we reached the point I actually want to talk about. She felt it was totally normal and accepted by everyone to be a ‘tom boy’ as a child. She could easily go from wearing a dress to burping in public (or whatever) and society accepted her. A boy is much less likely to learn how to sew with mom than go fishing with dad, she pointed out. 

I often tease my mother and tell her if a ever have a son I fully plan on buying pink onesies to dress him in. "Why would I do that to him?" she asks, "Just because it’s your favorite color…”. Well, it might be his favorite too! We’ve never asked him and at this point he isn’t aware of social constructs of color. This whole idea appalls my mother, and I can’t understand why. For the first 8 years of my life everything in my room was light pink. Should we be changing how we fundamentally raise our children based on the gender we assign them at birth. With something like color it sounds frivolous...but masculinity is becoming quite fragile.

A fun link and a serious link 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Did anyone else think Emily Gordon was too hard on herself? I didn't like seeing her put herself down because of the person she used to be. 

I think we can all be too hard on ourselves. That's why I really agree with what she says at the end of her article,

 "That’s the third theory of female competitiveness that I’d like to propose: We aren’t competing with other women, ultimately, but with ourselves — with how we think of ourselves. For many of us, we look at other women and see, instead, a version of ourselves that is better, prettier, smarter, something more. We don’t see the other woman at all."

I often say the only thing standing in our way is ourselves. The girl in this story pushed her friends away because of how she looked in comparison to her. I find that to be a very odd thing to do, though it's not unfamiliar. 

But you have to wonder, why? What made us think this way? It wasn't surprising to read that her friend compared their legs on the bus, but can you even imagine two boys doing that? Not saying they don't have self-esteem problems, because I'm sure they do, but I don't know how much they see it in other people. Not to the point where it makes them competitive/aggressive with others. 

After I realized a lot of the disdain I might have for girls stemmed from misogyny I thought back. I've had several falling outs with friends in my life and I can't say any of them have ended because of this idea one was better than the other or anything like that. With Lauren it was because she was being downright mean to me and I didn't want to deal with it anymore. Lydia was because she abused my friendship with her and caused a lot of drama. It wasn't them or anyone else, but what about the friends I still have?

I've known and been best friends with Rachel since the summer before 1st grade. We had kindergarten together but I don't remember her and she hated me. We grew up together, I knew her before she wore glasses and she knew me when I'd wear nothing but dresses. I was always a little taller than her but in seventh grade she shot up and I never grew another inch. Her already long limbs thinned out while I remained pretty much the same. 

I have memories of her chasing me around the dining room table wanting to steal my thick, dark hair. I remember her crying after school when people told her she looked anorexic. I remember not wanting to give her compliments because she asked for them. I remember her being gawked at while I was ignored. 

She is really the only person in my life I feel particularly competitive with. I really don't know how much of it has to do with male attention. Or even this natural instinct to be protective that Gordon talks about. I don't think it has to do with genetics or science or evolution, I think it has to do with how women have been treated in any kind of writing for thousands of years. There is hardly any literature, especially really old stuff, that depict females in a non competitive roles. They are created to further the development of a male character, become a love interest, play the crone, be the mistress. It's hard to find stories where there is more than one female lead and stories that have females that aren't there to just talk about the male characters. We even still see it today, and it's clearly reflected in our patriarchal society. 

So when Rachel and I were growing up we were handed this media over and over again. Girls are taught that they don't need to have healthy relationships with other girls, as long as they have men that want them. It's society that has instilled in us this notion that we are less than we are. 

I really don't feel this way about Rachel, but I think it has affected the vision I had of myself growing up. But I'm really happy that I was the type of 11 year old who when their mom asked "Ooo, who are you all dressed up for?" My answer was, "I'm dressed up for myself." Though I'm not so happy about living in a world where a mother thinking their 11 year old is looking special for someone else is commonplace. 

Monday, October 26, 2015

Micro Personal Essay

                 My mother always told me I could tell her anything, even the scary stuff, especially the scary stuff. I’ve always been told I was mature beyond my age, and so didn’t always find applicable. I didn’t get int much trouble, not of the serious variety. I didn’t have much to tell her beyond friend drama and school issues. I was nine when my Popop died, I didn’t get to see my mother react in the moment, to this day I’m not sure how it affected her. My dad was the one to tell me, it was the first thing he said as he walked in the door from work. He told me like it held to emotional weight at all. No one ever made me feel like the risk of loss was real, it didn’t even feel real in the moment. I ran upstairs to my bed and clutched onto the stuffed pig he had given me and cried. I cried at the wake too, off the side with my head tucked into the poncho Nana made for me. My cousins teased me. A few years later my parents told me they were getting a divorce. I walked out of the room while my sister and mother were crying and my dad was talking excitedly about the house he already bought. We would get to paint our room however we wanted. I left and walked up two flights of stairs before finally collapsing in tears. They said they still loved each other but it didn’t make any sense. Love was supposed to mean we all stayed together. I returned to them in silence and spent much of the next three years that way. I was drowning in scary stuff and didn’t want to talk about it with my mother, especially not her. That night she came into my bed and asked me if I was mad at her. I thought it was unfair for her to ask. She wanted me to make her feel better, to ease the guilt she felt. It wasn’t fair. I deserved to be mad but I was never allowed. No, I had told her, I’m not mad. It was the first time I felt more mature than my parents. I had to become stronger for them, emotionally, and for my sister too. I could never tell them how I really felt, because that would mean becoming immature. I wanted to scream and yell and demand that it all go back to normal. I don’t want to be mature. I don’t want to detached. I wanted to drown. I wrote instead, bleeding only in ink. I thought about how as a child when I fell and got hurt no one rushed to my side. Instead I picked myself up and walked inside where mom was waiting with a bandage. Somehow things changed so that I’m still the one with the scrapped up knee but I’m bandaging up my mother. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Thought Paper

         One of the things I appreciate the most about our class discussions is how much we all truly care about what we’re talking about; writing and healing. I can easily sense how each of us are connected to the issues we talk about, yet all those connections and experiences vary. This is because we all have our own perspective. Not everyone writes in the same way, not everyone heals in the same way. Each one is valid though, and really important to the greater ‘voice’. 
         With that said we are also a female dominated class. I love to talk about feminism, especially associated with writing. Taking Women and Writing last semester was truly a blessing, I was finally placed in a setting where the people around me also wanted to talk about female empowerment and feminism. We also talk about these kind of things in our class, particularly with the Clothesline project. As feminists we know that more than white cis women are affected by feminism. I think I would like to stretch our boundaries a bit. Talk about current struggles people face. The police brutality, the rise of transgender awareness and pride, Islamphobia, lesbians, and so on. I think it would be useful to look into communities that aren’t right under our nose, learn what life it like for people who struggle with things that aren’t easy to talk about, and are current enough that healing may just be in the beginning process. 
       I would love to hear voices of these people. I was glad to talk about Malala and her point of view on the violence against her and her people. I struggle with the fact that the book we read from, while still widely relevant, is a bit outdated. I want to focus on what’s going on now. 
       Another thing I might like to talk about is feminism for boys/men. Because it’s not just for women, often times I feel like I am most motivated for the little boys of the world. They grow up being told not to cry or show much emotion at all. They are taught to treat women this way and that, usually as things and not as equals. Something to talk about, no with. The way they are raised to view the world not only harms females, but themselves and other males as well. There are boys who suffer eating disorders but never get it checked out because it’s not ‘manly’. In fact mental illnesses in males tend to go overlooked while females are treated but also deemed ‘crazy’. Boys cry, girls cry. Women cry and no one looks at them funny, they just assume they are psming, when men cry they pretend it’s not happening. Both are extremely harmful. Feminism wasn’t created to bind men, but to release them as well. Men who struggle may never find the healing of writing, since writing is considered an art and art is considered feminine. 
         Lastly, there is Twilight Reimagined, exactly the opposite of what people wanted Stephanie Meyer to do. She took the complaints of sexism and decided to retell her vampire love story with a gender swap of literally every character. She could have used find and replace to just change the names and pronouns, since she kept the story near verbatim. But now there are now articles comparing lines from the two books. It’s easy to identify the moments of sexism. She turns emotional moments with Bella into emotionless ones with Beau. She honestly furthered the sexism in her stories past a point no one dreamed of. This might be an example of writing and NOT healing. Perhaps it was for Meyer, but not for the public. 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Chapter 11

I find the opening of this chapter pretty interesting. The fact the teachers are taught in emotions or how to deal with a depressed or suicidal student. When a teacher is confronted with something like this they have to decide whether or not to take action. Not taking action could mean a tragedy, taking action would mean getting involved in something they may feel unequipped to handle. But I think any teacher could handle something like this if only they remember to view their students as equals and not children, even if they are. Children still feel the same emotions as adults do, they are just as complex and oftentimes a lot messier because they don't have the experience to know when to let go and move on. They don't have the experience of healing. Teachers do though, whether or not they want to talk about it. I think teacher also need to keep in mind that the classroom isn't just a two way mirror. Teachers can learn from their students as often as they learn from their teacher. If they avoid creating lessons and assignments around personal experience I think they are really shortening the classroom experience. I took creative writing my junior year of high school, and it wasn't the first time I was able to speak about personal things, but it was close. That class changed my life, my teacher wasn't afraid of the nitty-gritty details of a teenagers life and so we got to express freely. Pretending that school is this emotionless academic place causes so many problems. It's a building filled with likely thousands of kids! Of course there are emotions, of course there is drama, of course there is depression. Ignoring doesn't make it go away. I say the best way to get schools to be more expressive is to have writing workshops. All students know in primary eduction is to write 'academically'. We are taught research papers with MLA and book reports and blah blah blah. It's awful. Most people don't ever develop their writing voice. I think it should perhaps be a thing at an early age. People write their essays and never want to pick up a pencil again. Writing should be used in schools as a tool of coping and understanding oneself. No one really even has to read it! Just giving them the opportunity to share the parts of life they have experienced. And yeah, sometimes it's suicidal, which is really awful, but it's always better to be proactive.

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Silence kills, not taking up a voice hurts, it does not heal, individual experience is seen as part of a larger social problem. This is demonstrated through the nature of the clothesline project. Each shirt stands on it's own to tell it's own story, but it becomes a statement when they are hung together. There is power in community, and that power lends itself to healing so well. Solidarity makes people strong, you can see it through this movement and Black Lives Matter and countless others. It shows the importance of working together to make big changes, especially societal ones. "There will be a time when our arms will be so wide that they encircle and embrace the entire world." I think that is a beautiful statement, and one that I believe whole heartily in, if there has to be one sentence to define what I am all about as a writer, friend, woman, and activist, this is it. You cannot achieve great change on your own, even if you are only trying to change yourself. When people stand together they don't feel like victims anymore, they can see the strength in the people around them and begin to recognize it in themselves. They are survivors and warriors. It's important to be the voice for your own cause, don't let others define your experience, this is particularly important for woman and other oppressed groups who often get spoken for.

Reading what the shirts say gave me chills. These stories are mostly older than I but they can still fully speak for the cause. The way they choose to word their story or the story of another is so telling. Just copying the newspaper headline or excerpt tells us so much how the media sees the story. The story is often about the man, the abuser, and the victim remains nothing more than a victim. These shirts are a way for them to take back what happened to them. Writing makes it so they can say something after being silenced for so long. Silence is a tool to manipulate the oppressed. You cannot heal in silence. Writing, speaking, telling, that's how you heal.