Rachel's Blog

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Intro to my draft....still a work in progress

Gender Communication in the Professional Community
This inquiry essay questions whether men and women communicate effectively, but specifically in the professional world. There are many theorists who express their views on this subject and many views differ. This essay will explore the negative communication between men and women, predominantly, sexual harassment and the positive interactions between men and women in their work environment as well.
The professional space for men and women develops complications because women have recently began to empower themselves through their career aspirations. This poses a possible challenge to a world once completely dominated by men. Corporations adapt to these changes, many by creating policies, such as those against sexual harassment. Sexual harassment exists in the past and present, but its definition still fluctuates. Yet to understand the struggles men and women face communicating, we need to understand the community itself.
Most professional areas look the same. Cubicles replace offices because they consist of cheap material, they take up less space which allows for more employees, and they provide a neutral setting. Many people bring their own character to their work space through pictures, calendars, stuffed animals, radios, etc. Yet for the most part, these cubicles follow cardboard copies of each other with their gray, pin cushion walls and beige filing cabinets. The cubicles form a maze in which only the associates within the work place can make their way around the office without getting lost. If the corporation is large and resides in a building with two floors or more, than it most likely contains these tricky elevators which always seem to break and trap people in the process.
Corporations, such as the one I work in, usually consist of a balanced amount of men and women, although mine particularly employs more women because many positions in the company carry duties more secretarial or clerical in nature. The majority of men in this company have jobs with authoritative positions or move quickly into these positions. For example, a young man named Scott came to the company fresh out of college last year and his boss already placed him in a higher position. Many facts influenced this promotion but the women in the department focused their attention on the fact that he gained a promotion so quickly while many of them felt overlooked. This situation displays a form of miscommunication between genders. The man who promoted the other man chose not to speak with the entire community of associates about the reasoning for Scott’s promotion and the women failed to take the initiative and question him themselves. The corporate arena possibly forgets that men and women likely speak, act, and think differently and these differences may need acknowledgment in order to produce effective communication.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Part of my annotated bibliography (revised)

Akita, Kimiko. "A Female Teacher and Sexual Harassment in a Japanese Women’s Junior College: A Case Study." Women and Language v25 i12 (2002): pp 8-23.
Akita’s article confronted the challenges women face in a patriarchal society, specifically the Japanese society. She speaks of her own experience in a professional environment, where she felt objectified and humiliated on a regular basis. Her argument focuses on the idea that communication, or the lack of, between genders is affected by the environment the genders live in, the idea that people, especially women, are expendable and easy to replace in the professional world, and that harassment occurs in intimate settings, making it less of the public problem than it really is. She also concentrates on the idea of gender roles in this patriarchal society. Women exist to be cute and merely decorate a space while men should be respected and waited on by women in any setting. Her article addresses her own initial submissiveness to the harassment she endured by keeping her mouth shut and watching watch she said and did. She calls out to fellow women, to not do this and to help support each other rather than stay quiet and let the harassment go by undisputed.
Krolokke, Charlotte. "Women Professors’ Assertive-Empathetic and Non-Assertive Communication in Sexual Harassment Situations." Women’s Studies in Communication v21 n1 (1998): pp. 91-104.
This article discusses, in depth, and gives examples of two forms of communication, assertive-empathetic (a more direct approach), and non-assertive (an indirect approach) toward sexual harassment. The article provided a case study which consisted of interviews from female professors, both tenured and not, who relayed their own approach to an incident of sexual harassment in their own life. The outcome of the interviews displayed that most of these women relied on non-assertive communication for reasons including, relationships with others, career aspirations, or their own identity coming into question. Many of these women simply did not want to disrupt their professional goals including: promotions, raises, and merely keeping one’s job. They also feared that any direct confrontation with a co-worker might cause severance of their bonds and make their work space awkward.
Ring, Laura. "Sexual Harassment and the Production of Gender." Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies v6 n1 (1994): pp. 129-160.
In this article, Ring describes sexual harassment as a type of social interaction between men and women. She accounts this negative interaction to gender inequality and the role men and women play in correlation to power. She also corresponds sexual harassment to cultural, social, and racial differences. In other words, sexual harassment occurs more commonly and perceptibly in a lower social or ethnic environment. Women tend to feel more threatened by a person of different race or lower social status, keeping in mind that the majority of the women interviewed in this article were white, middle-class women. Ring points out that sexual harassment stems from the inability of men and women to communicate healthily because they exist on different social hierarchal levels. Women consistently use non-assertive communication to alleviate sexual harassing situations because they fear challenging male power and suffering the consequences that may derive from that challenge.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Golden Grahams

Whenever I smell or taste the sweet honey and oat squares of Golden Grahams, I think of visits to my grandparents house in Illinois when I was a little girl. I remember walking into their '70s style kitchen with the orange finished maple cabinets, brown and off-white squared pattern linoleum floor, and white counters covered with tins of oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies or jars full of my grandma's homemade jam. My grandpa and I used to wake up at five o'clock in the morning, come down into the kitchen, where he proceeded to pour me a heaping pile of those sweet grahams moistened and mushed with milk. He then poured himself a cup of coffee, always black, prepared a bowl for himself, and opened the local newspaper. He followed this same routine his entire life, and I remember feeling special to be included in on those infrequent but precious moments I shared with him. To this day, that sweet smell of Golden Grahams, especially when mixed with a strong coffee aroma sends me back to those mornings when I sat at my grandpa's side, in a creaky wooden chair, where my feet never touched the floor, and I slurped up every bit of the sweet milk from the bowl while my grandpa sat intently reading his paper and humming in a low melodic tone.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Article for Newswriting II....Amesbury, Massachusett’s, Mayor Kezer’s Inaugural Address

In a town with a population of 12,327, according to a year 2000 census, on Tuesday January 3 Mayor Thatcher W. Kezer III delivered an inaugural speech which gave the town of Amesbury, Massachusetts an idea of his goals to improve and enhance the city as well as the lives of its citizens.
Controversy played a part in this campaign as indicated when Kezer said, "The first challenge that we face as a community is to get beyond the division of the last several campaigns.If we are going to succeed as a community, all of us, collectively, have to let that anger, and frustration and distrust go...let it go."
Kezer followed these words with a few of his plans to improve some of the problems the city of Amesbury faces as a community. One of his major concerns is the government service costs, including; health care, insurance, and energy costs.
Citizens of the town make a median household income of $50,037 per the 2000 census. The census also showed that the majority of Amesbury citizens work in fields such as education, health care, and manufacturing. Kezer appeals to these citizens’ needs through a variety of plans.
He plans to restructure the local government by investing in projects to lower costs, using technology as a beneficial tool, make sure education is thriving and effective to produce effective future generations of citizens, and supporting local business to make other big business crave to come to the town.
He also shares his plan to communicate with the citizens and department heads about what taxpayers’ money is being spent on in order to make the local government more efficient in it’s job to work for the community of Amesbury.
The program Kezer speaks of as a tool to initiate his plan is AmesStat. He says, "It is intended to improve internal reporting of operations, holds all levels of local government accountable, improves the ability to measure progress and will provide better information to the Municipal Council and citizens of Amesbury of how well their government is operating."
Kezer speaks to his audience about the problems of the city in which he wishes to improve upon with his various plans of action he wants to use to get the ball rolling.
He answers the skepticism of some of his citizens with these words, "to all of you who maybe didn’t support me in this campaign, I will work to gain your trust and support and to know that I understand that I represent all of the citizens of Amesbury."

Friday, February 24, 2006

Communicating with Unreasonable People

Just recently a friend of mine joined the gym in hopes of losing some weight. I joined with her so we worked out together three times a week. It has been six weeks since we started and she stepped on the scale last night only to find out she has not lost a pound. The first words out of her mouth when she called me were "I am cancelling my membership because this crap is not even working." At this point, I attempted to calm her down which turned her anger toward me.
This incident offers a prime example of the impossibility to communicate with an unreasonable person. Obviously, I made the mistake of trying to reassure her that her efforts to lose weight were not in vain, but my words only prompted more resentment and anger from her. We come across many people, who like my friend, suffer from unreasonable moments. I perceive the moments as temper tantrums for adults. Sometimes the stresses in our lives overwhelm us to an extent that causes us to lash out or even act immature, and in these moments no one has the ability to comfort us until we feel ready to be comforted.
Therefore, communication with a person suffering from one of thee fits usually pummels into an unhealthy interaction. The safest route to take with an unreasonable person might be to wait until that person wants to talk about their problem and calm down. Space guarantees time for us to think about what upsets us and face it with a clear mind rather than blind rage. It also provides us with a chance to calm our nerves so we don’t lash out at others or vice versa. Unfortunately people communicate ineffectively on a normal basis, so adding the element of anger, stress, nerves, etc., only provokes an even more negative form of communication between two people. Our only solution lies in stepping out of their way and letting them come to us when they are ready to talk.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Paper topic Idea for Media and Society

An issue in the media that carries heavy weight in today's society involves the perception of how women should look. A woman's "ideal" outward appearance usually displayed on the cover of magazines such as: Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Style, Marie Clare, Maxim, Stuff, and many others, does not reveal a realistic expectation of womens' faces, bodies, or skin. When a reader absorbs these covers, they tend to forget that the women on these magazines have been airbrushed, edited, and in many cases digitally enhanced to look the way they appear to look. Do women aspire to look like these magazine cover models? Yes they do, and in most cases their frustration grows as it becomes more and more apparent that their goals cannot be met. Another major question, do men view these magazine cover models as what a woman should look like? I plan to analyze and find the answer to this question and find evidence to support the claim that women suffer from an unreachable grasp of what media tells and shows them they should look like. The reasons this topic interests me are, being a woman I see these magazines and question my own appearance, I fear future generations of women may seek these same unattainable appearances, and men desire these kind of women which makes it difficult for women to meet their expectations as well.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Story in the Corporate World

If we think about women’s struggle to gain power, we only need to take into account that women were second class citizens until 1920, when we received our right to vote. It is amazing to recognize that women only began voting less than 100 years ago. Womens’ primary roles existed in the domestic sphere. Women played mother, wife, housekeeper, cook, and if they lucked out they received a limited education. Women rarely carried any authoritative duties over their husbands, unless in rare instances such as wars, which left women in charge of "bringing home the bacon."
Today, women continue to build and expand their power in the career sphere, but they face tribulation along their journeys. Women continue to face gender discrimination, sexual harassment, over look, and they tend to work twice as hard as men just to gain equal respect in a position of authority. I have witnessed each of these forms of discrimination and wish to share the story, so that we may all understand that mistreatment of women, especially in their careers continues to cheapen and taint our corporations.
My mom literally worked her way up the corporate ladder from the absolute bottom. She started working in insurance in her early 20s, with only a year of college under her belt. She worked as a data entry assistant at a small insurance company in Colorado known as ADCO. Yet through her connections, she landed a position at a major insurance corporation called Markel. Markel hired her as an associate underwriter, a step above her data entry position. Over a period of thirteen years, she worked her way from associate underwriter to underwriter to senior underwriter to territorial manager, and finally to associate vice president. She gave 100% of herself to her job, and her effort seemed to pay off.
A recent disturbance occurred in her career climb when a man from an outside company came to Markel, supposedly on a temporary basis. However as time continued, it became apparent that the man had no intentions of leaving and the other men with authority in the company decided to "make" a position for him within the company. When they made this new position, the new guy became the territorial manager of two territories, one of which being my mom’s. They basically pushed her aside without regard to make room for someone who never worked for the company to begin with.
My mom, of course, lost her faith in the company in which she once felt so connected to. The respect she once esteemed her fellow male associates, and especially those that held authoritative decision, shattered when they pulled the carpet out from under her feet. Although they tried to sugar coat the position movements by telling her that she still held the same responsibilities and duties as before except that now she no longer dealt with the "boss" duties of writing employee evaluations or hiring and firing people, she felt their loyalties shifted and the result was inexcusable.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Drunk Dialing: Effective Communication or not?

Is drunk dialing an effective form of communication? In my experience, this form of communication carries both good and bad consequences and I can offer examples of both. If a person calls a person while they are shnooked, sloshed, torn up, wasted, or any other expression one might choose to define their drunken state, they can expect a variety of reactions from the person receiving the drunk dial. Mostly it depends on whom we decide to call.
In some cases, people call their ex. This happens to be a negative aspect of this form of communication. Since, alcohol has been called a truth serum we can expect that a person calling their ex possibly has this to say, "I miss you and want you back," bad if the caller gets rejected or "I hate your guts," which could be good or bad depending on how or why the relationship ended. Yet either way, we possibly close the lines of communication with the ex we call.
A more positive outlook on drunk dialing occurs when we call our friends. Our friends tend to laugh with us and never let us live down the ridiculous things we do or say. They usually never judge us, and if they do than the friendship ceases to be healthy. A drunk dial to a friend may have negative consequences depending on what we say to them, but for the most part our true friends take our intoxication into account and forgive any rude remarks we might make. For instance, if we call our friends telling them "I never really liked you" the consequences could go either way.
I believe drunk dialing to be an effective form of communication, only as long as we remember who we called and what we said. The call may carry negative or positive consequences but a lot of the time we say the things we want to say, but never have the courage or nerve to say. Drunk dialing, should not be a frequent choice of communication, but it cannot be ruled out as an effective one.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gender Conflicts in the Career Community

Female Adversity Within the Career Arena
As a woman, I confronted many gender related adversities in my job community. Some serious dilemmas I faced include: sexual harassment, promotion over looking, and both mental and physical degradation. Unfortunately, these conflicts occur in many work places and affect many women on a daily basis. The thought that this is "a man’s world," has stifled the progress of a large number of professional women.
In my own job, at Essex Insurance Company, some men made remarks about my intelligence, implying that they inherently had more because of their gender. Yet the most discomforting moments I faced at my job occurred when some men remarked on topics including my bust size, my butt, or my curves. One man sustained entire conversations with my chest, and never once looked me in the eye. Sadly, other women suffered this same harassment from this man, who we referred to as "creepy Tim," and other men.
If a woman carries the same qualifications as a man, but gets passed over for a promotion by this hypothetical man, than she also confronts a form of gender harassment. Many times a woman’s personal life bears reason for such decisions, and this discrimination although illegal still occurs in our work force. A prime example of promotional discrimination toward a woman, occurred when a young woman from my company attempted to get promoted from a file clerk to a data entry clerk. She took classes that aided her in the knowledge of the business and clearly understood what responsibilities and tasks the new position entailed. However, a young man (also a file clerk) applied and interviewed for the same position, having never taken one class to understand the job, and he ended up getting the position. When the young lady asked the male manager of that territory within the department, why she failed to get the position, his reply was "you still need more experience." Ironically, the young man hired brought less experience to the position and his lack of experience remained unaccounted for.
This controversy continues to plague women in their career aspirations or expectancies. Women face harassment on many levels, and although human resources in many companies crack down on harassment, loop holes exist and leave many women helpless to their male associates. Even in the 21st century, women face submission and degradation by men in positions of authority. My intent lies not in condemning the male gender. I simply wish to enlighten others that women still face harassment from some men in their career community.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lesson 1
In Lesson 1 of Style Ten Lessons In Clarity and Grace, Williams introduces the intent of his book. The first sentence he writes is "This book rests on two principles; it is good to write clearly, and anyone can." (4). In this first lesson, he discusses the various "unclear" writing outlets including; bureaucratese, legalese, and academese, and he offers examples of these unclear forms. Yet he also provides us with solutions to these unclear styles of writing.
Over all, the major theme of this lesson is to introduce the reader to clear unclear and clear writing so that we see the difference. He talks about the necessity for a writer to know their audience and to write language that the reader can understand. The object of writing lies in clear thought and expression both for the writer, but especially for the reader. Williams’ goal is to make his reader a more understandable writer.

Controversy in Community
An odd controversy occurred in the community which I once felt the closest link to. I am a member of the community of highschool friends. Yet, as of late, I feel less and less an active member within this community. I spent time with this community on a regular basis, but a gap wedged its way between me and the other members of this community, a gap that left me with no control or say as to the consequences of such a severance.
A common fallacy that everyone hears on a regular basis is "men and women cannot be just friends." I spent the past seven years of my life with a man as my best friend, or so I believed. Unfortunately I realized that this theory may carry some validity behind it. My friend Jorge, whom I refer to as the social director of this community of friends, and I recently lost our sense of friendship. I thought the gap occurred when he began to date someone, and that she felt uncomfortable about our friendship. Yet, the core of the controversy came to light, and coincides with the fallacy mentioned above.
Jorge’s feelings for me rested on a higher level than that of friendship, and my lack of reciprocation led to the destruction of a friendship that may never have existed to begin with. This realization left me both confused and lost because so much of the person I am connected with this community to which I no longer feel a part of. Certain moments occur in life, that change a person’s perspective and even derails their course, and the moment I discovered that my friendship with Jorge was grounded by his hope that we might become more than friends some day shook me to my core.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

I heard an expression the other night during choir rehearsal that really made me think. "Why not put your bananas in the jello before it gets hard." A more generic explanation for this quote might be, anything that is worth doing is worth doing more than just half way. I don't exactly agree with the message behind this expression, as funny as it may be. Not to say, that I always do everything half way, but I think that the things we do, whether learning Mozart's Requiem, writing a blog, or eating a Chipotle burrito (which are massive), takes time and levels of progression. If we tried to complete tasks all at once, we might overlook one of these steps or we will overwhelm ourselves. Every act we participate in involves meditation and many times, a person needs to step away from their task in order to analyze and think about how they wish to continue. I find it easier to work for a while, stop and do something having nothing to do with that activity and then come back to it again later. I find that even if I haven't been working on it for a while, I have actively thought about it while I was doing something else. Our brains have a funny way of never really shutting down which allows us to multi task, well most of us.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

An issue that continues to perplex me is downtown Richmond parking. I started going downtown almost everyday when I enrolled into VCU about five years ago. Street parking, quite frankly, doesn't exist so, a person's best bets are either park in the parking decks which cost about three dollars or buys a parking pass for one of the VCU designated lots which range any where from $150 to over $200. The "cheaper" lots provide a person with about a 12 block walk to get to their class. Parking, constitutes the main reason why I transferred to Randolph Macon from VCU. When I couldn't park to get to my class on time, I finally said this is enough! Another event that brings us into the throws of downtown parking is eating at a restaurant in the fan or Shokoe Slip. With reservations, I tend to leave my house at least 45 minutes before which allows me 30 minutes to find a parking space remotely near the restaurant I plan to eat at. On a Friday or Saturday night, I don't even try to park on the street, I just park in the decks regardless of the fee because I waste time otherwise. Now, here comes the complicated part, some street signs indicate legal parking on MON and WED from 11am-6pm for 1 hour or 2 hours only, while others say legal parking except TUES and THURS, and so on. Basically, if we are not careful, the confusing signs can cause us to get a ticket too. I can go on for hours about my frustration with the downtown parking hassles, but I will just have to come back to it later.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Community Membership

I feel like a member of several diverse communities. I exist as a member of the community at Randolph Macon College, at my job at Essex Insurance, and in smaller communities such as a member of the RMC Chambers Singers, Jazz Vocal Singers, and Choir (all three distinctly different communities), as well as member of the community within my group of friends outside of college. All of these groups carry different weight, in that, some groups are more formal than others and the people that compose these different communities play different roles in my life and my role differs in association with these communities.
Randolph Macon, as a whole, acts as a more formal community for me. Since, I don’t live on campus, I spend most of my interaction there studying with others or taking classes with others. However, certain niches of communities through RMC provide me with an informal community. Through Chambers and Jazz Vocal, we work hard, but we all interact on more of a friend level. Most of us are ages’ 19-22 and have similar interests in a career path. We tend to get along really well even when we don’t want to. Many members are music majors or minors, but not all which makes the environment a comfortable one.
I joined the RMC choir a year ago because a member of this community told me I should, and that advice changed my life at Randolph Macon. Before I joined this community, I lacked the outlet to get to know very many people from the school on a more personal level. Now, I feel that I managed to make some incredible friendships, and I feel more in tune with the whole Randolph Macon community.
Another more formal community I joined about three years ago is "the world of insurance" at Essex Insurance Corporation. What I was thinking when I decided to join this community, I have no idea, except that I needed money desperately! This particular community troubles me more than any other. I hate and I mean that in the strongest sense of the word, the community of people that encompass that office. It acts as a festering ground for people with money to look down on those without it, and for people without money to pretend that they actually have it. Rarely, have I met a person in this community whom I consider an honest, sincerely kind, and interesting individual. Most of the people I connect within this community have ulterior motives or wear two faces.
In this community, similar to many others, the members strive to get what they want at any cost and no matter who they must climb over to get it. It, being a promotion, a raise, or something as simple as a stapler that actually works. In this community, penis equals power, meaning that a man has a much better chance of being promoted or just coming into a position than a woman with the same qualifications. Not only that, a man, in an "equal" position to that of a woman, receives better pay in this community as well. Yet, the "man’s world" mentality dominates many of these career-based communities, so this community simply provides the world with another example of that.
Finally, possibly my favorite community, embodies my community of friends outside of Randolph Macon. I joined this community when I was in high school, and therefore, have stayed a member for a long time. I met these friends through work and school, one in particular, my friend Jorge acts as a sort of social director for the whole community. Over the years this community has maintained its strong roots, which might come as a surprise when we consider how many highschool friends actually remain friends after they get out of highschool. A strange aspect about this community lies in its ethnic and interest diversity. Most of the members of this community are men. Jorge came to America from Brazil, as did Gago and Jonathan and his sister Stephanie. Mylik has a mixed ethnic heritage because his father comes from Panama and his mother is American. John, Kevin, Zoe, Erica and I all come from America, but a new member to our community, Maria "Maica" comes from Bolivia. One of our jokes we say when we have all of us hanging out at the same time is "all nationalities are represented in this room." This may be a quite large generalization, but most of the time the members of this community, listed above, bring other members into our community who come from different nations as well. Last weekend, Jorge’s apartment contained three Brazilians, one Panamanian/American, one Swiss, two Poles, and five Americans. The ethnic diversity of this community always provides a more interesting atmosphere and cultural feel.
One thing that holds this community together comes from our interest in going out downtown and having a good time. We drink and dance at Tobacco Company and Richbrau or go relax at places like Lucky Lounge or Element. Every Sunday we eat brunch at Sidewalk Café, on Main Street, and share pitchers of mimosas. The boys all play or watch soccer, an activity that enables our community to keep in contact and remain in tact.
The communities that I shared above all contain their pros and cons, but for the most part, they are communities I chose to be a member of for good reason. I decided to enroll in Randolph Macon because I loved the campus, my fellow students, and the faculty. I chose to join RMC choir, chambers, and jazz vocal because I love to sing and the friends I made through these different groups will be lifelong friendships. I chose to join Essex Insurance because I needed money and my mom works there so she sort of pressured me into it, and I chose to join my group of highschool friends because we have fun together and enjoy many of the same activities. Yet I face controversy in all of these communities as well.
At Randolph Macon, I struggle with commuting and because I live at home in Richmond, I have a difficult time meeting new people and having the ability to just show up for a study group or work on a project any time. Choir takes up a lot of my time, and causes me to have to rearrange my schedule for performances. I already spoke about the controversies I face at Essex Insurance, no need to go through that rant again. Finally, I face conflict in my group of friends just by being a girl surrounded by boys all of the time. These are boys who act vulgar in front of me constantly, which I am used to because of my two older brothers. We also face drama when friends within the group date each other and especially when those relationships don’t exactly work out. Yet over all, I enjoy my role in each of these communities and hope to gain experience and knowledge from interactions in each one.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Community Membership

I feel like a member of several diverse communities. I exist as a member of the community at Randolph Macon College, at my job at Essex Insurance, and in smaller communities such as a member of the RMC Chambers Singers, Jazz Vocal Singers, and Choir (all three distinctly different communities), as well as member of the community within my group of friends outside of college. All of these groups carry different weight, in that, some groups are more formal than others and the people that compose these different communities play different roles in my life and my role differs in association with these communities.
Randolph Macon, as a whole, acts as a more formal community for me. Since, I don’t live on campus, I spend most of my interaction there studying with others or taking classes with others. However, certain niches of communities through RMC provide me with an informal community. Through Chambers and Jazz Vocal, we work hard, but we all interact on more of a friend level. Most of us are ages’ 19-22 and have similar interests in a career path. We tend to get along really well even when we don’t want to. Many members are music majors or minors, but not all which makes the environment a comfortable one.
I joined the RMC choir a year ago because a member of this community told me I should, and that advice changed my life at Randolph Macon. Before I joined this community, I lacked the outlet to get to know very many people from the school on a more personal level. Now, I feel that I managed to make some incredible friendships, and I feel more in tune with the whole Randolph Macon community.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Can Writing Be Taught?
(An essay directed towards fellow students and professors)
Writing may possibly be the activity we hear the most complaints about in almost every field of life we come across. {Many people believe that writing comes from natural ability or some mystical "gift." in which they were not predestined to obtain.} This assumption leads such people to struggle with their writing, whether in writing a research paper, a witty note to a friend, a career resume, or even something as simple as an instant message.
Writing fortunately stems from an individuals desire to write and their resolve to become a better writer rather than from a "gift." Therefore, yes, writing can be taught. Writing exists like any other activity we get involved in. A musician, in most cases, decides that they want to learn to play an instrument, they practice (because practice makes perfect), and gradually they transform into a better musician. Writing takes much of the same process as a hobby or sport. A person decides they want to write, they practice their craft, and eventually they enhance their writing skills. Luckily, for people who desire to write, plenty of venues exist in which they can practice their skills. The sources are limitless.
We write to convey our thoughts through emails, letters, theoretical papers, and instant messages. We also write for class and/or jobs through research papers, notes, resumes, self evaluations, peer or professor evaluations, etc. Finally, we write in everyday life activities, a letter of complaint to the postal service, a grocery list, a survey, and many other forms. The problem that exists derives from the preconception that "I’m not a good writer," therefore, "I can’t get better."
Most people don’t start out as good writers and especially not great writers. Yet through schooling, whether in a creative writing class, a general English class, or even a history or art history course, we develop, practice, and expand our writing. It would be nice if we could just wake up one morning blessed with the ability to write a 500 page masterpiece, but writing takes work.
Speaking as someone who struggles with writing and feels frustrated when writing a research paper about the meaning behind a Shakespeare sonnet, that perfect line still missing from a poem or short story, or even that perfect witty comment in an email to someone I am trying to impress, writing can be a hellish process. People must develop their own way of writing, which takes practice and sometimes long, painstaking hours of drafting and redrafting until we are even remotely happy with what we have on paper. As bad as all of that sounds, nothing feels better then churning out an A paper to a professor who wondered whether we understood a single word lectured in class or just the satisfaction of knowing we won’t have to write another ten page paper for that class. Clearly, writing produces all sorts of emotions from its authors.
Everyone has the ability to write and to become better writers. Through practice and guidance we learn to write better but the desire to do so must drive us. Whether or not we write well comes from that desire because only the individual can choose to do what it takes to enhance their writing skills. So evolves the question, can writing be taught? The answer depends on the persons devotion to writing, and if we are dedicated to writing than yes, we can be taught to write and even write well.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Writing fortunately stems from an individuals desire to write and their resolve to become a better writer rather than from a "gift." Therefore, yes, writing can be taught. Writing exists like any other activity we get involved in. A musician, in most cases, decides that they want to learn to play an instrument, they practice (because practice makes perfect), and gradually they transform into a better musician. Writing takes much of the same process as a hobby or sport. A person decides they want to write, they practice their craft, and eventually they enhance their writing skills. Luckily, for people who desire to write, plenty of venues exist in which they can practice their skills. The sources are limitless.
We write to convey our thoughts through emails, letters, theoretical papers, and instant messages. We also write for class and/or jobs through research papers, notes, resumes, self evaluations, peer or professor evaluations, etc. Finally, we write in every day life activities, a letter of complaint to the postal service, a grocery list, a survey, and many other forms. The problem that exists derives from the preconception that "I’m not a good writer," therefore, "I can’t get better."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Reflection: Losing a Best Friend
About a month ago I lost my best friend. Matt and I had been dating for the last five years, in fact, the past year marriage came into our conversations on a regular basis. We spent every day together, and our lives became so intertwined that I lost myself in our relationship. The day after Christmas, mind you I did not plan it to happen that way, we broke up. I finally realized I had to let go of him because our relationship became unhealthy for both of us.
I have heard people say that when two people break up, they feel as if they have lost a loved one. I never experienced that feeling quite so severely as I feel after this break up. When two people break up not because they don’t love each other anymore, but because the relationship has become stagnant and dry, the aching curdles unresolved inside ones belly. It never fully dissolves until time starts doing its job of healing those wounds.
The part that hurts the most comes from the loss of my best friend not my boyfriend. Matt had this incredible ability to listen and lend support whenever I needed it. As my life becomes more stressful, which of course happens when one has only a semester left in college and has to choose a career, that support becomes more and more important. Without it, I feel lost at times and my friends, as much as they try, cannot fill the void left from losing my best friend. I know I can’t be selfish and expect him to continue to be my friend after what has happened between us, but a huge part of me wants that selfish side to get what it wants. I haven’t heard a word from him since that day and though I hoped I would, I doubt that he will have the ability to speak to for a long time. Mostly, I just home that he will be happy and that one day, maybe, we can regain that friendship.

Friday, February 10, 2006

To continue the topic I was discussing in yesterdays post, Americans need to change their perceptions of how to "live." We need to stop focusing on capitalist desires and spend our time embracing the other things in life that we overlook everyday, from a beautiful red and orange sunset to a roller coaster ride at the state fair. We take the simple moments in life for granted. Our way of living, or not living as I am suggesting, has crippled or senses. We no longer know how to appreciate the scent of a rose, the taste of a warm peach cobbler, the pain when we bang our funny bone against a door trim, or the sound the leaves make when a light breeze passes through them. Everyone hurries from their job or school to go home and work even more. The only pause for enjoyment exists when we turn on the television to watch our favorite Seinfeld re-run episodes or the new survivor. People have forgotten how to have fun without being entertained by something else, i.e.; TV, radio, internet, friends, etc. Most people don't realize they turned into slaves of the system. Sadly, without knowledge or even acknowledgment, we cannot change the way we spend our life. The cycle will continue to turn and people will keep complaining about how boring their lives have become. How many times I have heard someone say, "there is nothing to do around here, I am so bored" or "we never do anything fun," could fill up half of the Empire State Building. People want to change their patterns, but we get stuck in these mundane routines and can't get out. The average American has a pretty basic day that consists of getting up, eating breakfast, brushing one's teeth, taking a shower, getting dressed, going to work, taking a lunch break in which they spend the whole time talking about work, going back to work, staying later than they had planned to that day, finally getting home somewhere between 6 and 7 at night (if they are lucky), eating dinner while watching TV, doing the work they brought home from work, and finally going to bed just to wake up and repeat the process the next day. Welcome to corporate America!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

One of my favorite quotes is "Life is what's happening while we're busy making other plans," by John Lennon. His words represent truth in society today. People spend so much of their time, working, organizing, and doing the things they believe fulfill their lives. In truth, these things don't really matter in the end. This may sound cliche, but we live such a short time, and most of our time consists of working ourselves to death for money and material possessions that we cannot carry with us. If we really stop and think about it, after college we will work eight hours a day, at least five days a week, leaving only one day to do what we really desire to do, because by Sunday we prepare to go back to work and start the process all over again. This concept of life baffles me. The French culture struggles with stereotypes of laziness because they work three or four days out of the week and take long breaks during their work days. In fact. the French seem to know how to live. They know when to stop and take in life. Carpe Diem, a philosophy that everyone should adopt because we only get one chance to experience the world and we should take in as much of it as we can. Unfortunately, values such as excessive work, money, and material things aka capitalism impedes American's ability to live life and do the things they really want to do.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The other night, I watched a movie with a friend of mine and could smell the shampoo he used. Pantene Pro V penetrated my nostrils with a lingering and distinctive aroma, a fresh smell similar to aloe, which carried me to the past like a time machine. This smell took me back to the summer before eight grade when my parents owned a river house off the Mataponi and I met one of my best friends. Renee and I clicked immediately. She radiated this boisterous, outgoing and at times overwhelming aura that complimented my more introverted personality. We spent every weekend tubing, boating, jet skiing, laying out in the sun, watching movies, eating as much junk food as possible, and getting into trouble almost all of the time. I envied Renee because she personified excitement and risk taking. She never let anyone make her feel inadequate or intimidated. Plenty of the guys we hung out with watched their step around her. She always used Pantene Pro V and the smell seeped its way into the air, our clothes, the towels we used on the "beach," and eventually into my own hair when I borrowed the shampoo from her. The summers I spent hanging out with Renee existed, but buried themselves in the farthest corners of my brain until the night I smelled Pantene Pro V again. Unfortunately I lost touch with Renee a very long time ago, but I learned through mutual friends and from her family members that she now personifies marriage and motherhood, and that she now envies me because of my life's journey. Her outgoing personality aided in crippling her hopes for a future filled with college, freedom to do whatever she set her mind to in regard to a career and social life, and young adulthood.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

In advanced expository writing I expect to learn how to write better. I expect to learn new techniques for prewriting, redrafting, and new styles of writing as well. I believe this class will enable me to improve my writing abilities, enhance my strengths as a writer, and hopefully dissolve most of my weaknesses.

On the first day of class when the Prof. Malesh said, "you either have the gift to write or you don't," my perception of the class was not good. I am one of the people who sat there without saying a word to dispute the comment, even though every part of me felt that it was completely untrue and an ignorant remark that unfortunately some professors say and actually mean. I was relieved when I realized that she wasn't one those professors and that she was trying to get us to dispute her comment.

I want to learn how to use the skills I have at writing and expand them while acquiring new skills. I hope to learn how to write a paper without feeling like I can't finish it because I am having a mind blank. I also think it will be interesting to learn how to be a persuasive writer. That ability will come in handy with the career I wish to pursue in public relations.

My goal is to become a better writer. I don't expect to walk out of this class being an incredible writer, but since I love it, I hope to get better at it. I hope that this class will enhance my writing skills so that I have a better chance at obtaining a job in public relations or journalism. I am looking forward to the various styles of writing we will explore throughout the semester.

I am nervous that my writing may not be as good as I would like it to be. Since other people will have access to what I write, it definitely puts you out on display. I hope to change my attitude about having others view and critique my work. As Prof. Malesh said, writing is personal, and I tend to take my writing too personal. I hope to change my ability to be a helpful critic of others work as well. Overall, I hope this class opens me up to other points of view about writing and new skills.

The first time I ever knew I loved writing was in middle school. I realized I was a very introverted person and therefore, I kept my feelings bottled up inside. I always wore a smile on my face even when I was angry or upset about something, and writing became a vessel for me to extract these feelings from deep inside my gut and get them out in the open.

I started writing poetry when I was in seventh grade. Of course, I look back on it now and see it wasn't very good poetry but it was something I enjoyed doing and a way of relieving stress from my life. I continued to write poetry, getting better at it as time went on, and also writing music lyrics. It wasn't until my senior year in high school that I took a creative writing course, and I fell in even more in love with writing. In this class I learned to use different methods of writing including; short stories, free writing, stream of conscience, and many more. I learned to look beyond the face value image of an object and give it deeper meaning and bring it to life. For example, I had to find a way of describing a pen without saying what I was describing and giving it a life of it's own.

That class also helped me to begin a process of writing. I find free writing to be the most effective form of prewriting when I am about to start a paper or even a poem. It allows me to get all of my thoughts at that exact moment down on paper so that they are available for me to organize and find a topic within the freewrite. The best aspect of this exercise is that it does not allow you to stop your train of thought. This pushes a person to delve deeper into their psyche and pull out information that may otherwise be buried or lost from other distractions we face in life.

I tend to predraft on paper, but I usually start composing my papers on the computer. This method has it's good and bad elements. It is easier to spell check and fix grammar on a computer. However, I tend to have more trouble redrafting a draft because I forget what aspects of the paper I want to change or improve. Even after I improve them, I almost immediately forget what I did. The paper just melts together at times or my eyes feel like mush from looking at the computer for too long.

As a writer, my strengths are my ability to push out an eight to ten page paper in a night, although I am trying really hard not to do that anymore. I also feel that topics come easy to me. It usually doesn't take me very long to figure out what I want to write about. My weaknesses as a writer sometimes are that I tend to get blocked three-fourths of my way into a paper or poem, my writing derives from my emotions (this can be a strength or weakness), and my writing sometimes feels too conversational or even shallow.

To detail the weaknesses above, I feel like my brain just shuts down or gets over loaded with too many thoughts, worries, and distractions. This probably stems from the procrastination of waiting to do a paper at the last minute. I also get blocked when my emotions are out of wack. For instance, I can't write decent poetry when I am really happy. My words end up coming out cheesy or shallow.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Welcome