Friday, May 2, 2014

Sometimes the Best Has Already Come

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, written by Jonathan Safran Foer, is by far my favorite thing we have read this semester. This novel follows the journey that Oskar Schell takes a little over a year after the tragic death of his father in 9/11. Prior to starting his quest, Oskar finds a key amongst some of his fathers possessions. 

The key, contained within an envelope with the word "Black" written on the front, fills Oskar with a deep urge to find the lock that it opens. This urge consumes Oskar for eight whole months, as he visits multiple people with the last name of Black, because that is the only clue he has as to where he might find the lock. Eventually, he does find the lock, but it doesn't lead him to what he was looking for. In the end, he realizes that, regardless of the end result, the key was still something that brought him closer to his father for a time. Additionally, this story also shows how PTSD can effect people differently, by telling the story of Oskar's grandmother and grandfather.

As I was reading this novel, I was actually really looking forward to watching the film adaptation of the novel. Moreover, I was even contemplating downloading it, and watching it on my own as soon as I finished the novel. However, I found that once I started working on my final project, I realized that I actually didn't want to watch the film adaptation.

 One of the things that I have learned this semester, is that often times, adaptations can change opinions of original works, and that sometimes they can even provoke conflicting opinions. One of the great things about this novel, on it's own, is that it's full of different things that are not traditionally a part of novels. Therefore, I have decided that those elements are enough for me. As of right now, in addition to the sad feelings this novel provoked, it also made me fall in love with just about all of the characters, therefore, I have decided that I will do my own adaptation and for right now, I will pass on watching the film.

The film may be good, or it may be bad, or it may even change a person's initial opinions of the book, but for me, the book was enough, and I honestly think, that not all things were meant to be adapted. Some things are just better left untouched. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Feels

I hate thing that make me sad.

Today in class we watched the ending of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The story follows Oskar Schell on his journey to find the lock that fits the key he finds in his father's room. His father has died in 9/11 and this is a piece of him that Oskar his holding onto.

9/11 is something that resonates with me, as it does everybody who can remember that day. That day was my 11th birthday. I was sitting in my fifth grade classroom and i just remember we had the television on all day and we watched the footage over and over and over again. At the end of the day someone reminded the teacher that it was my birthday and she looked at me like i was the saddest thing she had ever seen in her life. My parents picked me up from school and we barbecued hotdogs and tried to celebrate my birthday, but it was pointless. I spent the whole day afraid that I was going to die. This is back when I didn't have a room and slept on the couch in the living room at my grandma's house. I remember laying on the couch and crying while my dad watched the news to see if there were any developments. Any explanation.

I can't enjoy movies that are based on tragic events. Real tragic events. It's hard for me. Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan, Hotel Rwanda, Full Metal Jacket, hell, even Titanic... I just can't sit through them more than once. And the one time i do, i'm always uncomfortable. I feel bad for sitting down to something for entertainment knowing that it's based off a real thing, where real people died and real families were torn apart by violence or disaster.

I appreciate the film. And in someways it was easier to see than to read for me. The imagery was hard, but I can look at the actors and know they aren't real people. Tom Hanks sounds like Tom Hanks on the answering machine and I KNOW that Tom Hanks is (most likely) ok right now, but it was still hard to hear and particularly disturbing when they showed the towers falling. When reading the answering machine passages in the book, it killed me because in my head i put real faces to the words and i cant help but want to just put the book down. It bummed me out so much, it made me not want to read it at all.

I guess i should get over it, but I doubt i will. I've always been this way. I'm a sensitive person to the extreme and I guess i just have to spend my life ignoring things that may cause me to be uncomfortable on an emotional level.

After all that emotion.. I need some adorable.


After reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer, I found the book to be challenging and confusing as it would go all over the place..  It was hard to follow the characters and wether it was past or present taking place. The character of Oskar seemed like a good character, but the things he did are a little bizarre. After watching part of the movie version with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, the story line made a little more sense in which you could put faces to the characters and see all of the confussion the written story has.
In Breakfast at Tiffannys, by Truman Capote, that was also made into a movie version it went along with the original story line and was easier to follow.  I sometimes wonder if it would be better to read the book and then watch the movie, or watch the movie and then read the book. I have done both of these and I would say it could go either way.  In one way, as in Foers book, it made more sense to picture the characters and scenery first and then read the book.  In the book by Capote  it was better to read the book and then watch the movie.  I have seen a lot of books adapted for the big screen or television.  Some scenes are different but it is a good way for a story to be in a different media.
Truman Capotes   Summer Crossing , another book we read this  semester, is being produced in movie form and should be interesting to watch and to see who is chosen to play all the parts.  All in all, some books make great movies and some, like  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in my opinion is not one of those.  I did not care for the book and the movie is not making much difference.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Ballad of John Marston

The story of John Marston is not an easy one. He is a gambler, thief, and murderer. At the same time he tries to be a farmer and family man in an attempt to atone and escape his past, yet his past comes back to haunt him. As his story unfolds, Marston's family has been kidnapped and he must kill his former gang members in order to free them. He proceeds to shoot, murder, and raise hell all throughout Mexico and Texas while trying to bring his former gang to heel. Along the way he meets interesting characters who help or cause more headaches for him, but He never loses sight of returning back home with his family and leaving the past behind. Marston finally reaches his goal, and shoots the man who was the closest thing he had to a father. Then his wife and son are returned to him, and he believes his past is laid to rest. He enjoys his home life and stresses to his son that he wants him to go to school and not become an outlaw. Things are great, and then in the blink of an eye, Marston is gunned down outside of his barn, going out in blaze of gunfire glory. Years later, his son, an outlaw now, guns down the men who murdered his father, and John, even in death is unable to escape his past and it's consequences.
You wont find the story of John Marston in any book for he is a character in the video game Red Dead Redemption and unlike in a book, you get to control him as his story unfolds.
John Marston
 Karen Traviss is a well known Science Fiction author and one of a growing number of authors who are venturing into the video game market. She was lead writer on the Gears of War game and continues to be an advocate for stories told by video games. Video games allow the player to become part of the story and control central characters that otherwise a reader could only follow on a page even if the destination were the same. For sure, many games can't be acknowledged for having a great storyline, (Call of Duty comes to mind) but some can be just as powerful as a written novel. Rockstar, which made Red Dead Redemption and the Grand Theft Auto games, is known for the powerful stories they tell through a game. The same can be said of certain MMOs where players have more ability to create, mold, and shape their characters stories. I have spent many hours tramping around Skyrim, and each time the missions available are the same, I have yet to play a character that goes through it the exact same way.
As we continue to push forward into the digital age, will video games replace the traditional novel? Only time will tell.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Why I love Oskar

One of the books we read this semester was Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. Although I'm not usually a fan of sobfests (which is why I write romance--I prefer a happily ever after in fiction since they're so darn rare in real life) however this book is somehow one I can't resist going back to.

When we were assigned a twitter project, to tweet from a fictional voice, it seemed a no brainer--I'd be Oskar.


 I live with three kids with special needs, so I felt like I could really get Oskar, not to mention that as a mother...I kind of want to hug him any time I read portions in his voice. Not to mention when we read the pieces from his grandmother's point of view. I know what it is like to look at someone so very special, so beautiful and wonderful and be just overwhelmed with a blend of love, proudness and agonizing pain since we can't ever protect them from the world. By bringing them into being, by helping them grow, we're basically setting them loose in the asteroid field of life and just waiting to comfort them when they take a sideswipe.
And yet Oskar is both more and less than that. In his search for answers, in his blockheaded refusal to give up, he discovers things that most of us might spend our whole lives never knowing. Between the science that drives him and the horror of his loss, we can learn more about who we are.

Sometimes, science doesn't have answers. Sometimes the answers it has are more painful than not knowing. Either way, Oskar keeps his humor, keeps his ability to try, refuses to give in. Even when he is hurting himself to punish himself for things he had no control over...Oskar is kind of every one of us. Even if we're not physically bruising ourselves, don't we punish ourselves for things we think we've done wrong? Whether we're feeling guilty, wishing we'd done things differently...whatever, how often do we do just what he is doing, but in less visible but deeper damaging ways?

In the end of the book, we're not given a happy ever after for any of the characters, which I feel is both intentional and more meaningful. In real life, we're not promised forever. We're not even promised right now. Like Oskar, we have no clue what tomorrow will bring...
And yet we go on, living our lives and hoping for the best. Life isn't about the happy ever after, not really. It's about stringing together as many pearls of happiness that we can before we run out of string. Maybe there aren't any answers. Maybe there aren't supposed to be.

But somewhere, the things we're missing here? Are really common. As common there as they are rare here. Maybe in that place, there are happily ever afters but no one knows how special they are because they're so used to them... and only the rare person gets to experience loss or pain to understand how perfectly beautiful the good moments are in comparison.

Who knows, really?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

my dog too

Another Reason Why I Don't Keep A Gun In The House is a fantastic poem.  It made me remember the days when I had a dog.  My dog would bark at everything and sometimes at nothing at all.  My neighbors would probably be feeling the same way about my dog.  It never occurred to me how annoying the barking would be to other people.  Even the police would come to our house to say that our dog needed to be inside because the kids would be scared to come out and play.  So, sometimes I could not leave my dog outside.  The dog got out of the fence one day and terrorized the whole street.  The police came to our house again.  They said if our dog got out and bit someone that they would call the dog catcher and take the dog away.  Our dog would be quarantined, we would get a ticket and we would be sued for the anguish of the bite by the victim.  I was only a kid but it made my mom really mad.  I did not think that my dog was going to hurt anyone, she was after all just my dog.  But I kept her inside any way. The only time I let her out was to let her do her business in the yard.  She would run laps around the yard to stretch her legs.  Plus I only did that early in the morning when no one was out and late at night after everyone had gone in for the night.  I guess that after all that I had to go through having a dog as a child I never want to do that to my children when they were little.  I have not had a dog in 25 years because I do not want that type of responsibility on my hands as an adult, especially now that people sue over everything.  I do miss the companionship of a dog.  But I also like having the release of time.  I do not have to come home and clean up the poop and paper.  I do not have to spend so much money on food, license and shots for it.  Now I can complain to my mom's neighbors about their dog.  My mom's dog does not bark unless he has to go outside to do his business or someone comes to the door of the house.  I tell that she needs to vacuum the house more because I have allergies to the dog she has now.  I sneeze constantly when I go home to her house.  I was just there and my asthma went crazy being in her house.  The bad part is that she will not do it, I have to.  But her neighbor's dog reminds me of this poem.  He barks all the time he is out.  The neighbor throws his poop in their garden.  So, I will never eat tomatoes from their garden ever, ever. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Visual Adaptations

As I responded to your ToonDoo projects and your in-class adaptations of Billy Collins' poems "Another Reason I don't Keep a Gun in the House" and "Directions," I was continually impressed by your creativity. I wanted to be sure you had the opportunity to respond to your classmates' adaptations, so I'll be sharing those here.

Several of you chose to adapt scenes from Of Mice and Men for your ToonDoo projects, and many of those adaptations dealt with the final scene in the novella. I think these adaptations are wonderful examples of how the person adapting a text puts his/her own spin on the original.
Tj's adaptation

Drew's adaptation
Maggie's adaptation
Donna's adaptation
Gabby chose the challenge text of Ceremony and adapted a portion of one of the poems found near the end of the book.
Gabby's adaptation
Melissa chose the opening scene of Home when Frank Money escapes the mental hospital.

Still, others of you were inspired by the poetry we have looked at this semester.
Kim's adaptation
Alaina's adaptation
In addition to your ToonDoo works, I loved the adaptations you made of the Collins poems. I thought it was interesting that Virginia was the only one to include actual lines of the poems, but you were still able to capture many of the emotions and ideas in the poems with the images you chose. Great job illustrating how much weight images can carry in visual adaptations of literary works! Unfortunately, the color scanner didn't do a great job picking up some of the crayon colors and cut off things that were close to the edge of the page, but I assure you they all look awesome in color!

Most of you chose to adapt "Another Reason I don't Keep a Gun in the House."

Tj's adaptation (nice use of the all blue pack of crayons, Tj!)

Maggie's adaptation 

Gabby's adaptation

Kim's adaptation
Melissa's adaptation
Virginia's adaptation 
Alaina and Donna were brave enough to tackle "Directions," which is full of visual images.
Alaina's adaptation
Donna's adaptation

I'm so proud of the work you've been doing this semester and can't wait to see what you come up with for your final projects.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


    Ted Kooser's "Giant Slide" tells of a tiny, run-down theme park with a giant slide. This park is long closed, but the narrator returns. The narrator observes the old ticket booth, the chain link fence, and blue morning glories. All of a sudden the narrator is thrown back into his past memories and he envisions everybody that once came to the park and slid down the giant slide. He is brought back to reality and realizes that all of those fun times are now just ancient memories.

    Before viewing the adaptation of "Giant Slide" I had already made up my mind that I was going to hate it. I mean, how can someone take such an amazing piece of literature and turn it into a comic strip? How can someone take an author's creation and know how to adapt it to portray the same thing the author wanted to portray? I was certain of my answer. They can't. With my mind made up, I finally looked at the adaptation.

    However, as I looked at the comic, I realized what I hadn't understood about adaptations. It is not about portraying a poem exactly like the author had intended it. In fact, that is impossible. It is about interpretation. It is about discovering what you connect to in a poem and bringing it to life. 

    It is about being so absorbed in a piece of literature, that you have to stroke your brush against a canvas. Being that influenced by literature is what the writer intended. I don't think a writer could hope for anything more than to have their readers so completely absorbed in the story that they have create art. It is not about a 'perfect' adaptation, it is about INSPIRATION.

            read what inspires you, and then inspire

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

You're never alone, not here you're not.

There is a creepy voiceover in this video by Sting at the 2:32 point. "They're all here. You're not alone. You're never alone, not here you're not."

Aside from being randomly awesome, this reminds me of Oskar and Thomas. Both are isolated, separated from home in a very emotional and sometimes almost mentally ill way, however home doesn't leave them...Even when they feel farthest from it, they're never alone, not in the City they're not.

In the book, Thomas is grieving his whole life. Nothing went as he might have wished and all of it damaged him so much that he doesn't even have words to express himself anymore. He's trapped in silence, bearing the weight of his lifetime, and divided by his inability to explain why he is hurting.

Oskar is a little boy who everyone is trying to fix, but no one can reach. He's searching for something, the key really an excuse for a far more intangible search. He's lost his father, the one person who he thought understood him, and is riddled with guilt because he feels he mishandled his last moments with him. So he's not so much looking for something to unlock as searching for why. Why is his father gone? Why was it so sudden? Why can't he make sense of it? Why can't science, which he relies on, give him any solace in this his darkest moment--instead leaving him with knowledge his shoulders aren't yet broad enough to bear (like knowing he's breathing in his father's cells every moment he continues to live in the city where he died so violently and senselessly.)

I think we all asked questions like that when 911 happened. It didn't make sense, we couldn't guard against it, we couldn't rationalize why something so horrible happened and if we couldn't, how could we go on?

But they aren't alone, these characters. Because we're with them every step of the way and we're with them in their grief.

For a long time, years even, after seemed like everyone sort of paused. The economy stalled, people learned to live in fear, everything seemed a temporary solution. Forever wasn't promised anymore, so why worry that far ahead?

We danced our merry dances, walked our jaunty walks, but like Oskar, we did it all with heavy boots and we peered over our shoulders waiting for the next

Horrible Thing.

Because we're not alone. There were lots of things waiting like vengeful gods for us to peek over our shoulders for almost biblical punishment.

                                                               Horrible Things

happened and we weren't even altogether that horrified by them. After all, once you've watched people falling out of a building to their death, no heavier than office papers blowing in the warm September sunshine...

                                         only making a wet thud when they found the concrete below...
                  how could we work up the proper panic for the other Horrible Things?

Days stretched into weeks of them digging through still burning rubble and searching for children, firefighters, police officers--the best of what we believe we can be in this human experience, really, since they are the heroes and the innocent--and finding nothing left alive in the ruin of the city covered in ash.

Perhaps we've begun to find joy again. My children, for instance, don't understand why every year I weep on my birthday or why just the mention of that day sends my knuckles white and my body tight with tension...they have been raised by a mother who taught them to search for the little joys and revel in them because I do understand that we're never alone--that life doesn't happen in a void, but is a fluid thing and even in our darkest moments, someone is there with us. Perhaps helping them find those joys was a reflex. Like me trying to show them happiness because I do understand every moment is a possible last moment--the Horrible Thing is always following, after all, and we don't know when it will catch up--and I want them to suck out all the joy before they end up with that bitter rind.

Or maybe home was there on that horrible day and there is no actual Horrible thing...

Perhaps, like Oskar and Thomas, all of it IS home and we just can't see it yet.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Art of Story as Truth

Last spring semester, I had the privilege of reading Thomas Hardy for the first time. His Egdon Heath, with its wild grasses and furze helped me to finally acclimate to my new home here in Ohio. Walking my dogs in my neighbor's horse pastures took on new meaning as I imagined myself walking in the untamable heath of Wessex. In this sense, literature aided me in finding and accepting my new truth.
This semester proved no different. In opening up the worlds within the pages of Truman Capote and Jonathan Safran Foer, I finally realized that the reason I had never acclimated to Ohio was that I was still head over heels in love with New York. Reading both Capote and Foer helped me to grieve, heal and ultimately let go of the big apple. Literature has this magical capacity. All art does. That's why occupational therapists study art therapy, because artists, in telling their own truth, appeal to the universal truths within us all. Art, like no other language can mold and even inform the direction we choose to take our lives in.
In June of 2012, I began writing what was to be the real start of my first novel. After ten years of false starts, this draft felt palpably different. After each morning spent writing, I would walk my dogs along the shores of Lake Erie. The beach was awash in seagull feathers and being sensitive to spiritual animism, I decided to chalk the feathers up to Seagull medicine. Seagull medicine is a lesson in aggressiveness. In accordance with this information, I decided the feathers were telling me that I needed to be more aggressive in pursuing my writing. This draft would be the one I would complete, all the way to publication. The story tells my truth regarding my journey toward my bi-polar diagnoses. My hope is that my journey will appeal to the universal truth of humanity: our need to find healing and resolution to life's problems. I didn't come across this life lesson in an accounting class. My hunger for the written word was awakened in the theatre, another haven of art.

While that was my very personal, spiritual outlook on all those white feathers I took home that summer, I later discovered that the reason for all the seagull feathers (and dead fish) strewn along the beach that summer was that there had been an oil spill on the Canadian side of Lake Erie. No American news stations covered this spill. They didn't have to. It was a Canadian problem, so it wasn't reported on by American news outlets. The only reason I found out about it was through a friend who posted me a link on it from a subversive (as opposed to mainstream) e-zine: In spite of the local loss of swimming privileges and the damage to our eco-system nothing, was written or televised regarding the spill. (I would hyper-link the article but I can't find it anywhere now which I think is rather telling.)
In 1995, Newt Gingrich famously went on a witch-hunt to defund the National Endowment of the Arts. He was shrewd regarding his objective. Why? Because writers like Thomas Hardy and D.H. Lawrence were vocal advocates for the environment in the face of the stripping of the earth's natural resources due to coal mining. And today, writers like Leslie Marmon Silko speak out through their art for Native American rights and the damage done by the government's atomic bomb tests in New Mexico. Artists tell the truth big money doesn't want us to hear. No wonder Newt Gingrich was scared.
The next time you hear "41 Shots" by Bruce Springsteen, think about the thousands of murder victims that die due to police brutality. The next time you listen to "Big Yellow Taxi" by Joni Mitchell, think about global warming. Because artists tell the truth, even and especially when they make their audience uncomfortable.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

                                     Time For Grandfather

As we are now studying some poetry, I thought it would be interesting to do a little history.
The emergence of the English language poetry in the States began with the writings of
Walt Whitman ( 1819 - 1892 ) and Emily Dickenson ( 1830 - 1886 ).  With efforts to add
their voices to the English poetry, 17th century  colonists began writing about their travels to The New World with descriptions of what they found upon their arrival.
According to, the five most popular poems today are:
Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night by Dylan Thomas
Shall I compare Thee to a Summers Day? by William Shakespeare
Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost
Lady Lazarus by Sylvia Plath
and How Do I love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Although poetry has not been one of my addictions like the novels, I, as a child would
love to hear my Grandfather  recite the poems he had written for various people and
occasions.  He was very witty and humorous and everything rhymed.  The best part
of our family Sunday dinners was when he would give us a whirl at his new endeavor.
I especially loved to hear him recite the poems he wrote while serving in The United
States Army in World War 1 France.  His descriptions would put you right there with
him.   I have a collections of some of his work that I read on occasion and it always
lifts me up.
I have written some of my own over the years, but it does not compare to his. I write
in a similar style however but it is mostly stories being told.  I wish he was still here today
so I could ask him for his advice on some of my work. Thanks Grampa...miss you.
World and descriptions of they found upon arrival .

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Adapting a Heart

Poetry has never had a very large part in my heart unlike other forms of literature. To be totally honest, I have spent many years, and many literature classes, avoiding anything having to do with poetry. The only real exception to that rule was poetry by Edgar Allen Poe. Therefore, when I saw on the syllabus that we would be reading "Annabel Lee" this semester I was super excited. In fact, I was so excited that I went ahead and read the poem and the adaptation before class even started. However, no matter how much I love Poe it was actually the adaptation of Ted Kooser's "The Giant Slide" that actually impacted me. 

Upon first reading the poem that inspired this comic strip adaption, I found that I was left with the normal state of confusion that reading poetry typically grants me. I sat on my bed, staring at my computer screen wondering what it was that I had just read. I honestly just held on to the impression that the poem was about a slide on a playground where no one went anymore. Because I was stuck on the playground theory, I failed to really grasp what the poem actually meant.

When I moved onto the comic strip adaptation of the poem everything really fell into place. I was finally able to see the longing and loss that is part of this poem. This poem that is about a giant slide, however, this slide has so much more meaning than one realizes. This poem is really about the loss of childhood and possibly even innocent happiness. Also, this poem shows how not only people grow and change, but the things around them do as well. At one time, this giant slide was a place of happiness for many people, but over the years it has transformed into a place where no one goes anymore more; a place with a fence around it so that people are no longer able to enter it. 

This poem is a perfect example of how something can be enhanced by adapting it to a new form of media. Once I saw the meaning of the poem in the adapted comic strip, I was able to re-read the poem and see the actually beauty of it. I was able to see the longing, and the poem even stirred up past memories in me about a giant slide from my own youth. This poem made me think of all the times when I was younger, when I used to love sliding down the giant slide at Geneva's Grape Jamboree. Now, it is my daughter that loves to slide down that slide, and every time that I hear her squeal of delight, it reminds me how I used to make that same sound when I was her age. This poem reminds me of that beauty, and how objects can be just as much a part of home as people can.

Steinbeck Memorialized

            Among American writers, there is an exclusive clique that has managed, like water, to shape the rocky terrain of our culture through the timelessness of their work. This is an exclusive club. It's hard to get into. And you will never know, once you're in it, exactly how you got there.

            But we all know those authors who have made it beyond the velvet rope, because we are informed by the ripple effects of their words each and every day. The agoraphobia of mental illness will always rekindle the memory of The Glass Menagerie.

            John Steinbeck is a card carrying member of this clique, thanks to the creation of his dynamic duo. (Yet another cultural set of icons!) In George and Lenny, Steinbeck unwittingly facilitated the creation of the archetypal odd couple. It is from the seed Of Mice and Men that the world is served up the likes of Walter Mathau and Jack Lemmon, the two vultures of Merry Melodies fame and who could forget the father and son relationship in Bugs Bunny and the three bears, and the gangsters and their boss in Tortoise wins by a hare. In these Looney Tunes classics, we see the characterizations so deftly drawn by John Steinbeck, personified in another medium. George and Lenny no longer live solely on the novel's pages. Like Willie Loman and Stella, George and Lenny are now specters gracing the American artistic landscape, identifiable in art, cartoons, plays, sculpture and graphic novels.

            In the opening scene of Bugs Bunny and the Three Bears, Junior is noticeably larger than Papa Bear. When Junior states that he is hungry, Papa Bear loses his temper and wallops his mammoth child, screaming, “Shut up! Can't you see I'm thinking?” This scene is very reminiscent of George's constant speculation on what is best for him and Lenny.
            Likewise, in Tortoise wins by a Hare, gangsters take bets on the race on the rabbit to win. It is the smallest man who acts as the capo and to whom all the large dunces take their orders. Perhaps more poignant however is the character dynamic between Bugs Bunny and Cecil Turtle. Like George, Bugs Bunny is hot tempered and smart alecky. He thinks he knows all there is to know about racing. However it is the slower, more soft spoken turtle that really seems to understand what's actually going on. He wins through cunning. He gets what he wants despite the best efforts of Mr. Rabbit. Lenny too gets what he wants in the end. He dies seeing his dream before him, a dream none of the other characters would ever see.

            And so thanks are in order to Mr. Steinbeck for the creation of George and Lenny, without whom, there would be no Abbot and Costello, no Laurel and Hardy, no cartoon buzzards, and no enormous dopey bears. The archetypes of the small wiry smart guy and the big dumb idiot are etched in American art for all of time.


Memories are created each an everyday, from the minuscule to the grand. Whether it be a certain smell, sound, or something visual. Memories are all around us, they linger with us through life, waiting for that one instance, that one time, when everything lines up right for them to trigger the response they've been waiting for. Reading Giant Slide triggered a response from me personally, it brought me back to my youth, all the summer's spent at Geauga Lake. Although in bleak Ohio, it reminded me of the fun summers me and my family used to have there, riding the rides, playing the games, and eating all that terrible food. It was something I would look forward to every summer, my reward for surviving another school term. Its been multiple years since the park closed for good, all the rides sit in ruin and every once and awhile I drive out that way and see the tall starting hills of some of the coasters standing there all alone, reaching skyward for something, someone to help them restore their lost life. I remember anxiously climbing those hills, waiting for my stomach to drop over the edge with the rest of me. Those were some of the best summers of my life, now seeing the place that brought me so much joy in such a state is very emotional. I feel bad for those coasters that brought such joy not to just me, but many people, to be abandoned and cast away, only existing in memories. That is their home now, no longer are the functioning, no longer are they causing screams of excitement, no, they now only sit and hope that somewhere someone is remembering them as they once were.

Giant Slide to me is a great example of how the world around us is ever changing, and unless we cling to the memories of years past and cherish them, they will sit and rot like the coasters of Geauga Lake. Memories offer each individual a home, a home that will always be the same no matter what is going on around them, and that is why I feel memories are one of the most important aspects in shaping an individuals idea of what home truly is.

The fabric of poetry

Although we haven't discussed ee cummings, he has long discussed the theme of home and how home can be found in a single relationship.

Much like most of his contemporaries, ee cummings examines the idea of relationships bringing us back to where we came from, or traveling with us, in his poem "i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)" In this poem, cummings proclaims that love can become home and when it does, we take it with us where ever we may roam.

Much like Edgar Allen Poe in Annabelle Lee, when he discusses his love, it is clear that cummings is devoted to the person to whom he created the poem. In real life, fragments of ourselves stick to those around us, making our effect on the world around us far more eternal than if we were able to go through life unconnected to the people who touch us. While leaving behinds fragments of self can sometimes be a painful and even agonizing experience, it also allows us to reach beyond the grave, as Poe's devotion to his young cousin proved. Although she was gone, she remains remembered forever because of the greatness of his love.

So too with cummings love...whomever it was, he immortalized the fragments of self she left behind inside him in this epic romance of a sonnet.

I love poetry because just like interpersonal relationships, it can leave behind fragments and pieces of itself, stuck to us and forever changing the fabric of the tapestry that represents who we are.

This, in my opinion, makes every life like a patchwork quilt...a history of who we were, who we will be, who we loved, who loved us, the good days, the bad days, the foreverness.

In literature we read it in words, in the beauty of connecting them like pearls on a thread only so long as the story. In life? The pearls can string out covering a hundred years in some cases.

Who do you carry in your heart (like my pirate captain) ...and who carries you in theirs?

About the author:  

Virginia Nelson believed them when they said, “Write what you know.” Small town girl writing small town romance, her characters are as full of flaws, misunderstandings, and flat out mistakes as Virginia herself. When she’s is not writing or plotting to take over the world, she likes to hang out with the greatest kids in history, play in the mud, drive far too fast, and scream at inanimate objects. Virginia likes knights in rusted and dinged up armor, heroes that snarl instead of croon, and heroines who can’t remember to say the right thing even with an author writing their dialogue. Her books are full of snark, sex, and random acts of ineptitude—not always in that order.

You can connect with Virginia on multiple social networks:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

the slide blog #6

       The Giant Slide was a different kind of story.  It was animated but a serious story.  I read it over twice to be sure I understood it.  It was about a giant slide on the side of a highway, that had not been used in a while.  It had a chain link fence around it to keep out predators and children.  It had not been destroyed just dusty from sitting around unused.  The wind blew leaves to the old structure.  I felt that there was more to the story than meets the eye.  The colors in the animation were great.  It kind of gave me a feel of psychedelic colors from the 1970's.  The people in the story were lifelike.  All the body parts were proportionate.  The scenes look like the seasons changed.  The flowers were in bloom, but the leaves were fall colored.  The wind seemed to be the bearer of the bad news because it brought back memories of a time that had past when the wind blew through your hair going on the slide down.  This reminds me of the slides at the amusement park I went to as a kid myself at Geauga Lake.  When reading this story I think of the adult shows on Animation Domination on fox tv on Sunday nights.  This made me eager to see how to do animation on prezi.  That is going to be my struggle.  I do not know all of the details of doing prezi but I will try to utilize what I learn to do a project for the final.  But it all depends on how difficult the task is.  There is so much to learn about all the new techniques of this class I do not know if I will do well.  What I hope to do is create a clear and concise understanding of the story of my choice.  I can not seem to make up my mind which story to write about.  The Giant Slide is one of the top three I have narrowed it down to.  I am trying as hard as I can to grasp all that is going on with the new mediums I have learned.  But I hope to do well.  I will ask one of my classmates to help me with the animation of a story on prezi if I have questions or am not sure of what I am doing.       

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Home portrays a soldier returning home and trying to immerse himself back into the norm of society, a subtle task it may seem, but adding the time period and him being african-american only add to his struggles. Not only is the fact of racism and inequality prohibiting him from a normal existence, his emotional distress from fighting in a war, seeing his friends die and killing without thought, only add inner turmoil in addition to the outer turmoil the world is giving him. Frank's only bright spot in this world is his sister, whom now he must save from this dangerous and unequal world he's come to know firsthand.

This novel addresses not only the impact racism and prejudice has on one's idea of home, but also addresses the many obstacles soldiers face when their tour of duty is over and they want to blend back into the norm of society. Time lost in service to one's country can allow things to change so drastically that one would not recognize the home they once knew before the left it in the rear view mirror. War changes people, that is a fact that cannot be argued, it binges the mind with all sorts of questions and warrants a re-evaluation of one's life, one's home. Frank lost his buddies, his homeboys, during the war and all he has left of the one bright spot in his life, his childhood, is his sister. His sister who now needs his help or she might die. So Frank does what any big brother would do, he comes to her rescue. Of course his emotional state, caused by his experiences in war, cause many inconveniences along the way but as long as he can get to her he still has a little hope to resurrect some aspect of the home he left in that rear view mirror years ago. Franks one chance at immersing himself back into society, his version of society, is to return home with his sister and live. Live a life that he thought he'd never see again, like those figures left in the rear-view mirror.

Tech Revolution?

One of the arguments that keeps coming up in class is "What are the good and bad consequences of all the social media we are currently using?" We apply this to each tech we go over, such as Twitter and Facebook and then discuss them, but I would like to apply them to another argument that has come up often amongst my friends and I and that is:With the social media we have today, there will never be another Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia because people will know quickly about atrocities committed. I would argue that if anything, social media has done nothing to prevent similar things from happening.
Social media has been great as far as being able to connect with eachother and other people around the world. At the same time, it has created a numbness to the human spirit. Since 9-11, we basically live in a 24-7 news society and social media has only added to it. Things that you wouldn't know about until you watched the evening news or read a newspaper are suddenly given to use in minutes. Five minutes after it happened, the Boston marathon bombing was already making the rounds on Facebook along with pictures of the maimed and broken. We have watched everyday for over a decade a long grueling war on terror. Because of Social media, we live in a celebrity worshiping society, were a single tweet can ruin a career, but we see the pictures of an American ambassador being dragged through Benghazi, and don't blink an eye because we are now so used to seeing violence its no longer shocking or disturbing to see.
 Now we sit and hear how North Korea is committing horrible atrocities, and even feed people to dogs, and as a society we merely shrug our shoulders. We watch as Russia annexes Crimea and prepares to invade Ukraine, just like Germany did to Austria and Czechoslovakia, and go "Oh well", as are politicians shake limp fists and shout hollow threats at Russia. We still watch as millions are murdered in Africa, and say "Glad I don't live there."
As we enter this new Era of Appeasement, Even as the world is more connected then ever, we are lock stepping right into the same mistakes as the past.
German troops enter Austria
Russian Troops enter Crimea


In Toni Morrison's novel Home Frank Money has to save his sister, Ycidra, from a doctor who has been doing experiments on her uterus. Frank is a veteran suffering from what appears to be post traumatic stress syndrome. In the end he is successful in saving his sister and is able to overcome some of the trauma he lived through during the Korean War. Also he is able to be at peace in his hometown of Lotus.

Frank and Ycidra needed one another growing up. Their living conditions were not the greatest and their parents worked all day to provide even the smallest things for them. Their grandmother Lenore resented them to a point where she would berate and humiliate Ycidra and leave Frank to take care of her, even when he was only four and Ycidra was a baby.

Frank's home was with Ycidra in Lotus the whole entire time of the novel. While he wanted nothing more than to get away from Lotus, but that all changed upon returning with his very ill sister. What was the change?

As people get older then tend to grow and appreciation for the things they once disliked. Frank was able to see that Lotus was and is a place where people help one another. He brought Ycidra home and people immediately jumped to help her. They helped her without asking for money or for anything in return. They just needed time.

The point belongs that coming home to Lotus, Frank and Ycidra weren't helped by family, they were helped by the community. The only contact with family they had was when Frank asked his grandfather a question about horses and dogfights and even then there was no sense of a deeper relationship than that of friendly acquaintances.

Frank and Ycidra found healing and home in one another, through all the trials they went through they were still able to find peace. Much like the actual lotus flower that can thrive even in a dirty mucky swamp, good prevails over evil in Home and hopefully in life.

Always Run Home

No matter what happens, we always run home. It doesn't matter what happened in our home town or even what happened in our childhood house, we always run home.

In Toni Morrison's Home, we meet Frank and Cee Money. Frank has always been the protector of his little sister Cee as they lived in a town called Lotus. They grew up with an abusive grandmother and parents who worked 16 hours a day, leaving Frank and Cee to rely upon each other. Cee always tagged along with Frank and his friends, and Frank always protected Cee.

Because of the poor quality of life in Lotus, Frank needed to leave home. He signed up to join the military and left Cee to rely upon herself. After Frank left, Cee found a boyfriend, got married, and headed for the big city to escape Lotus. However, once she arrived in Atlanta, her husband stole her car and left her to, once again, take care of herself. Her grandmother was furious with her for car being stolen and made it impossible for Cee to return to Lotus, even when her father died. Cee made money any way she could. With her neighbor's help, she was able to get a job in a diner. However, she was not making enough money to live on. Upon hearing her neighbor's news, Cee discovered a job working for a doctor.

After Frank is discharged from the military, he suffers from PTSD and memory loss. After being discharged, he finds himself handcuffed to a hospital bed, unsure of how he got there. He tries to settle down with a girlfriend, but she kicks him out. He finds himself drinking whenever he feels upset or anxious. He sees the color of the world draining, and for a short time, is left with a black and white world.

He receives a note that says that his sister is dying. He tracks her down and finds her almost dead in her employers house. Even after all of the bad experiences in Lotus, he doesn't have to think where to turn to for help. He picks his sister up and runs straight for home. Even after living in a crowded house with little food, he runs home. Even after living with his abusive grandmother, he runs home. Even after seeing someone buried alive, he runs home.

Home is the place we always run to.
Home is the place we find healing.
Home is the place we find shelter.
Home is the place we find solutions.
Home is the place that doesn't ask questions, but instead, accepts us without needing an explanation.

Always Run Home

Photo Credit
Photo Credit

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


                                                 New School Technology

     As one being from the old school as some will call it, I am finding all the modern every day

technology both interesting and confusing.  When I decided to return to college, it was a bit

overwhelming being that most students were the same age as my own children.  I did not own a

computer or laptop let alone really know how to use one. I laugh now but I needed help in turning

one on.   E-mail ?   what is that ?  I found it pretty easy once I knew what I was doing. 

  I quickly found out that every professor assumed all students  had access to or owned some

kind of computer.  Classrooms and procedures were very different from when I attended

Lakeland Community College in 1999.  At the beginning of last semester, my daughter

helped me purchase a laptop, but she had to set it up also.  I became more familiar with

sending and receiving e-mails and using Google to look up information which became very

convenient not having to walk to the library for help.

   Around Christmas time, my son decided that I should get a Facebook account, oh my....

I had seen one but was not sure what it was all about.  I am still working on learning all

aspects and occasionally have to ask for help.  I have found family and friends that I

otherwise would not know where they were.  I only use it to chat and have not posted

anything myself.

   Now I come to the English class learning more ways to communicate using Twitter and Blogs.

I was not even sure what they were but it sounded like something I should know to keep up

with the times.  These two measures are also interesting and I can see how one would use them.

It has been hard to comprehend all of this at once, but the more I try to use them, it becomes

easier The world is at your finger tips I heard it said somewhere. That is definitely true. One

can find information, people, and what is going on in our crazy world.

  When it came to the Prezi presentation, however, I was totally lost trying to figure out

videos and putting pictures up.  I think this will take a long time for me., but in the mean time,

I will play around with the Twitter . I am not sure I will use the Blog  but we will see when I

am more familiar with all of the modern day ever advancing technology. Thanks for the class,

and all who are helping me,  and yes, of course, my kids.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

You don't have anything if you don't have the stories

            One of the joys that accompanies being a writer is healing catharsis. I have been blessed to have been born into a family of Italy's magical healing tradition known as Stregheria. We don't hover over cauldrons making dead baby paste. We teach, heal and write. The best healings coming from the stories about the ancestors. When you know your past, your pride in that past helps you forge a future.

            Leslie Marmon Silko understands the healing power of stories. In Ceremony, she utilizes a technique akin to listening to a conversation filled room. The novel, taken as a whole, resembles the percussive rhythm of a bar filled with customers' voices. As we cannot make sense of everyone's brokenness and subsequent need to tell their own story simultaneously, we hear one broken shard speak at a time. It is the collection of all these broken shards and their search for catharsis that, when forged together, turn the novel into a stained glass window.
            Silko deftly utilizes a form of medicine that both the Italian Streghe and the Native Americans share, the teachings of animism. If not for bear, mountain lion and grasshopper, Tayo may not ever feel quiet in his stomach. The Sun and Spiderwoman become for him, the caring, compassionate parents he never had

            Betonie’s assistant symbolizes Bear medicine. Bear magic is: “the place where all solutions and answers live in harmony with the questions that fill our realities. If we choose to believe that there are many questions to life, we must also believe that the answers to these questions reside within us” (Werneke 57). Tayo begins by struggling with where he fits. He is caught between the white blood that tells him to shrug off superstition and the Native blood that tells him to repudiate all that the white man represents. But he is a blend of these two worlds. He cannot fully recover unless he finds self-acceptance and that self-acceptance must be rooted in a marriage between the two worlds that made him. Bear tells him this. Bear medicine is the Ursa Major that resides in all of our chakras. It is only when we are in harmony with ourselves that our minds, bodies and spirits can flourish in true alignment. It is only then that the Great Bear stands tall.

            When Tayo realizes that his guts are no longer churning, it is while he is so busy reclaiming Josiah’s lost cattle that he has no time to think about how stressed out he is. In his reclamation of the cattle, he takes back his power and acts on behalf of his family, rectifying a wrong. It is in this moment that he meets Mountain Lion:


Mountain Lion can be a very difficult power totem to have, because it places you in a position to be a target for the problems of others. You could be blamed for things going wrong, or for always taking charge when others cannot. You could become the perfect justification for the insecurities of others.

Mountain Lion medicine involves lessons on the use of power in leadership. It is the ability to lead without insisting that others follow. It is the understanding that all beings are potential leaders in their own ways. (Werneke 105)

Tayo has always been a point of contention in his Auntie’s house. She has made him a scapegoat for all that ails the Indian Nation from that moment he took him in. But he never threw it back in her face, not even at the end. In taking back the cattle, he becomes the man of his house, as is evidenced in Auntie’s inability to look him in the eye. The Mountain Lion itself assists Tayo in achieving his goal and is then subsequently assisted by Mother Nature in thanks.

After Tayo leaves Betonie’s ritual, he seems to have settled within himself his ambivalence about his lineage. When Harley and Leroy ask him what he is looking for as he hangs his head out of the truck he answers: “grasshoppers” (Silko 145). He knows he must learn to walk where his shoes have never been. A new path, a clean slate, is all that will wipe his bones and belly clean of Japan. Grasshopper medicine, “includes jumping across space and time, jumping without knowing where you will land, leaping over obstacles” (Woolcott). Tayo must redefine himself. He has worn the labels of mother’s mistake, Auntie’s burden and American soldier/pawn. Grasshopper takes him on a new journey, one on which he travels toward himself.
Tayo heals through the animism of his heritage and the stories of his people. He overcomes the Ck’o’yo Kaup’a’ta of P.T.S.D. with the aid of the songs and poems of his people. Spiderwoman teaches the Sun how to overcome the Gambler. In this way, the story instructs Tayo how to overcome himself. The stories are the parents he never had. The medicine is the love he’s always deserved. Silko is right. You don’t have anything if you don’t have the stories, for without the power of narrative, readers could achieve no catharsis, and neither could we writers.

Monday, March 10, 2014

new world

I found a new world.  I now know how to blog and tweet.  I never knew how much of the world has changed.  I can keep up with my friends and family with this knew technology.  It is all good fun.  The tweets are a little hard because you only have 140 characters to use per tweet.  But I mean this stuff is kool.  I know that I can follow certain people on the twitter.  I can find out about up coming events, shows and concerts.  The blog is the same thing.  I can put information on the posting and get the news out even quicker.  I had some reservations at first but then as I started doing it more it was so much fun.  I think from now on I am going to do this more.  It saves me on minutes on my phone.  I can keep up with more people this way also.  This is such a relief to know this stuff.  I have to thank Beth for turning me on to this new stuff.  Now I am going to have something to do when school is out for the summer.  This can help me find new friends that can help me with the things I like to do.  Prezi is on the other hand is a little complicated.  It does not give you all the instructions to work it.  I know it can be done but someone must show you how to maneuver around in it.  I could not get the video part to work, but I did get the font , size and color change necessary.  That is my not so good project.  But I am going to try to use it more for future classes.  This is a whole new world for me.  Now I have a way to keep up with the times.  I am going to continue to work on these new media exchanges for my own personal use.  However, my prezi presentation was so mediocre.  Everyone else had a way better presentation than I did.  I was so scared to talk in front of the class.  But it was so nice to know this stuff.  I am going to save the notes for this class to continue working on the new media stuff. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

With Haste

Summer Crossing gives us the story of Grady, and her first summer spent in New York. Her family is dysfunctional and distanced, which led her into the arms of Clyde, the parking lot attendant whom in a course of one summer married and got impregnated by. Her, their summer comes to an end with a bang, or rather a splash,  with their car careening off a bridge.

This tale reeks of teenage angst, finding the bad-boy and doing things your mother would not approve of. Grady spent her summer in search of herself, who she wants to be, where she belongs, and whether she was happy with her home. Every person at one point in their lives comes to makes decisions that greatly impact the rest of their lives, such as Grady's marriage and future child. Home for Grady is when she is with Clyde, its the brief moment where she can be completely unsheltered and unimpeded by her surroundings. This aspect of finding home in someone rather than someplace is something that often accompanies a relationship. There is a point in every relationship where one feels enamored and completely at home with their partner, this is what Grady has, and with this inebriated state comes the idea that no matter where one goes as long as they have that one person then they will always be at home