Sunday, April 21, 2013

Blogging: short, but sweet

For someone who uses Twitter, Facebook and Instagram on a daily basis, it was strange that I had never created a blog. Twitter is sort of a micro-blog, I guess, but it's still not the same. Some of my friends use Tumblr but I never really enjoyed it as much as I did the other social networks. Creating a blog for the english class was a very innovative idea in my opinion. It's cool to see college work being integrated with modern times, and not just using boring textbooks.
At first, writing the blog was sort of difficult - I was confused at how to even publish a post! I saved most of my posts as drafts by accident. I deleted posts. I screwed up the layout. I had no idea how to fix the about me section! Slowly but carefully, I constructed to blog to reflect my ideas about the class and also to reflect a little bit of my own personality. I'm not a perfect speller, but I try my best. I like inserting pictures with my insight, it felt like I allowed the reader to connect more with what I was writing about.
The blog is a very nice tool to use, and it's actually easier than I thought it would be. I especially enjoy reading my classmate's blogs, simply because I enjoy reading different points of views and perspectives. It kind of unites us in a way, because we are sharing thoughts and opinions with each other even outside of the classroom. The blog is a great tool to communicate to anyone else as well, which is nice because anybody from around the world with access with a computer can technically read what ever I write about! It's curious at how much the world has expanded in such a short time period. 
I am kind of sad to see this class go. As much as I want the semester to end, I really enjoyed being in this class simply because it was an unexpected journey. 
I believe blogging is a short, but sweet way of recording our thoughts on whatever we want, without being judged. On the contrary, blog are praised if they are filled with strong opinions! It gives me the freedom to write what I think, and I believe that is one of the most important exercises of a writer. Being able to write freely allows our creativity to flow. 
So thank you, Professor Pittmann, for allowing us to expand our creativity while expanding our knowledge, and being tech-savvy at the same time! 
It has been a very interesting experience. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Anthology of my life: the journal

When I first heard about the journal we were supposed to have for this class, I was slightly psyched and slightly apprehensive. I've kept diaries before, but I never had a journal for a class. During middle and high school, all of my English teachers were more focused on grammar and structuring our writing, instead of letting our creativity flow. I was curious to see what the journal experience would be like.
I have to be honest here, my favorite part about the journal was decorating it. I can't paint, I don't know how to draw, but I adore making collages. I love how the colors just fit in randomly, there's really no order, no structure. It just flows. I had fun picking out the images for my journal cover. All of them a special meaning.  The covers are not divided by categories; all the images are scattered.

The front cover of my journal reflects mostly what the back cover does: places I've been to (the Roman Colosseum, Vatican Square), places I am dying to visit (Paris, France) and little quotes of wisdom I find are essential to any tourist or traveler. The first quote I picked, which is coincidentially the subhead for this blog says "Who lives sees, but who travels sees more." This quote really stood out to me because I realized that the more you travel, the more you grow. The more insight you acquire, the more you learn about yourself and about the world around you. It's not that you have to travel far away - you can travel from here to the next block and be able to say "Hey, I just went on a journey." What it means it's that wherever you travel, have the capacity to see the world with new eyes, and a diffrerent perspective. The second quote I posted on the journal was the definition of wanderlust, which states it as a desire to travel, to understand one's very existence. I can say for sure that everyone who travels has at least a little bit of wanderlust in them.

The back cover of my journal also shows places that I want to go to (the Parthenon ruins in Athens, the Big Ben in London) and has another quote that I love: "Do you believe there is a place that will make the soul less thirsty?" This quote really spoke to me. I am a sucker for astrology, and though I don't believe in daily horoscopes, I do believe every star sign has certain characteristics that define the people born under each House. I'm a Saggitarius, which is a fire sign, and is known for looking for the philosophical meaning behind their lives while traveling. This is very personal of course, but I always feel that there is more to learn. No matter how silly, the mind enriches itself with new information. In the future, I hope to find a place where I finally feel free, creative and full. Whenever I think of this place that will make my "soul less thirsty" I think of France. I've never been there, but something tells me it's where I belong. I apologize for this little anecdote, but it's the only way I thought of to explain my journal properly.
I love how my journal is full of color and wonder, it reflects who I am. I enjoyed writing in it this semester, and I feel like my writing has been flowing better ever since we started the journal exercise in class.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

An American Girl in Europe

The time is the1870s, and the place is the expensive resort town of Vevey, Switzerland, a town which fills up with Americans every June. Here we meet a young American named Frederick Winterbourne, who has come from Geneva to visit his aunt. Winterbourne meets a fascinating young American named  Annie "Daisy" Miller. Daisy is travelling with her mother and her obnoxious nine-year-old brother, Randolph. The father is a wealthy businessman in Schenectady, New York, who has sent his family overseas to get some culture. 

Daisy is strikingly beautiful and charmingly naive, and captivates Winterbourne immediately. But Daisy doesn't seem to understand that her flirtatious American ways are out of place in Europe: she does things like asking Winterbourne to take her rowing on the lake at eleven o'clock at night -- something no proper European girl would ever do.
Daisy's attitude came as quite a shock to the Europeans she visited, as the cultures were very different. It was interesting to see how misunderstood she was and what people thought of her, when really she was not doing anything so out of the ordinary (in my opinion, anyway).
 I was surprised at the ending, I honestly did not expect that to happen. (No spoilers!)

This novella made me very thoughtful about how complex, yet how simple people are. Daisy was shallow and small-minded, yet always believed the best of other people; prattling and silly, outgoing and thoughtless. Everybody thought the worst of her, but she was really very pure of mind, mild and innocent. That may have been her only fault in the strict, rigid society of "worldy" American travelers in Europe. But really, I think she was just totally out of place; she didn't have the insight to adjust her behavior to other societies and manners, and was completely bewildered when polite society turned their backs on her when she thought they were friends. 

This made me think about how all the time we are told to "be ourselves, be unique", and to have that backfire on you is a very curious thing.  People in society tend to reject someone who is not within what they have established as the norm.  In the face of another culture that clashes with our own, is it fair to restrain oneself from being their true person in order to avoid rejection? How much of ourselves do we really hold back, in order to gain approval from everybody? In a certain way, I saw Daisy as brave. She didn't hold back, she wasn't afraid - and even though she may not have been completely conscious of the entirety of her attitude and actions, she wasn't afraid to be herself, no matter what anyone thought. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Student Conference!

The experience I had at the Student Conference was something I never really had before. I was always to shy to enter writing or literature contests in high school, because I was always nervous about what people would think of my writing. So when Professor Pittmann announced she was going to pick eight of our mid-term papers to participate at a student conference, I was pretty nervous. I honestly had no idea my paper was going to be picked, it came as a pleasant surprise. When I heard we had to READ the essays out loud, well that's when I almost chickened out. I did not write that essay to be read out loud.
Every time I write, I pour a bit of my soul into the words. It makes my writing process very personal. I write short stories and free verse poetry, and thoughts about random events, but I never show them to anyone. The fact that I had to read my essay out loud was a bit nerve-wracking. But then I relaxed when I realized seven more of my classmates had to do the same thing.
The day of the conference some of my classmates, mostly the girls, stood outside the door, waiting for the previous conference to end so we could enter. We whispered about what it was going to be like and mostly discussed our pre-reading jitters. It was a bit calming actually, talking to people that had to do the same thing I had. It made me feel less nervous.
I was surprised at how professional everything was arranged - we were assigned to sit up front at a table, panel-style, with a microphone passed around each time a person read their essay. We were even given bottles of water! That made me laugh internally, I felt like a professional, like people (well, at least Professor Pittmann) was interested in what I had to say. And that felt good.
The whole experience was very rewarding, and I would like to thank Professor Pittmann for giving us the opportunity to participate. My fear at public speaking was defeated.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Internal vs. External Journeys

You don’t have to travel far to go on a journey; we embark on them every single day. Essentially, journeys are classified into two types: internal and external.  Even more so, I believe that an external journey is incomplete without its internal counterpart. As human beings, we adapt to our environments.  Where we go, affects who we are and what we do. During journeys we learn about parts of ourselves that we had no idea existed. When wandering outside your comfort zone we are subject to changes and undergo transformations as we travel. 
No individual is the same person at the end of their story or journey than they were at the beginning of it. We change, we transform, and we grow. Our external journeys require internal ones in order to adjust to new environments. These journeys are not simple and at times may clash with each other. There cannot be a true external journey without an internal one. 

Of the two journeys, I believe it is more difficult to go through an internal journey. In an external journey the only thing that gets exhausted is the body; but this weariness of the body will be gone after a good rest or proper healing. The internal journey exhausts the mind, sometimes to the point of desperation and hopelessness. Sometimes it is easier to quiet the body than to quiet the mind. The internal journey tests your personality. Many times it pushes the traveler to their limit; but perhaps that is the bottom line of a journey - trying your best to face whatever it lays in front of you.
There exists a thin line between these two types of journeys. Both of them behave similarly yet are completely different experiences. An external journey consists of the how’s, where’s, and when’s while the internal journey focuses on the why’s. The external journey is more about how we physically react to the changes we undergo, and the internal journey is more about discovering what we have hidden about ourselves. These two types of journeys work together, intricately weaving the traveler’s experience from two different perspectives into a single event. Thanks to them, we are not the same person we were yesterday. Journeys change the course of our lives, for better or for worse. In the words of author H. Jackson Brown, Jr.:
            “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

Friday, March 29, 2013

"There's another you out there"

Imagine one day you're sitting down, business as usual, doing some homework with the TV murmuring softly in the background. It's tuned into the local news channel - and suddenly you hear a peculiar news story. Scientists have confirmed that another planet has come out from behind the sun. But it's not just any planet - it's Earth. Another Earth.

It's the strangest kind of science fiction - the extraterrestrials? They're us. Another planet of us.
It sounds crazy, but deliciously appealing (at least to me, the sci-fi geek). It's the plot of one of my all-time favorite movies. Now, I won't give any of the plot away as it contains spoilers, but I will assure you that it is chock full of journeys.

As I re-watched this movie the other day, I really started to analyze it. The main character, Rhoda, goes through a huge life-changing experience throughout the film - it's simply a fantastic story. But what really got me thinking, scientific improbabilities aside, was how curious the idea of another world sounded. Not twins, not clones, but US. Not another parallel universe, but two Earths in the same universe.

 I know comic books have been using the multi-earth genre for ages, but seeing it in a recent film really got to me. The possibilities! The perils! The curiosities! Is there another me? What could I even say to myself? It would change the whole shape of our lives. This movie really impacted me in a way I never thought it would. For months I was stuck on the idea of another me. I even wrote a couple of short stories about the journeys my characters would experience: the physical journey of actually visiting the second earth and the internal journey about the reaction of meeting oneself. The mind reels...

If you're interested, here's the trailer for the film. Slight spoilers ahead!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013


SPRING BREAK IS HERE! You have no idea how much I needed this vacation. I feel like I cheated beacause none of my professors are coming tomorrow, and other people still have class. I felt like I was about to explode. Taking 18 credits this semester is really taking a toll on me, and I know it's only going to get harder as the years pass. But I'm not going to talk about that today.

I went to the beach today - a much needed rendevouz with the sun. I went with two of my friends, but if I had gone by myself I still would have had a good time. Most of the people my age go to the beach to get wasted but I love to go to just be calm. The sea has always had some power over me, it's a very soothing presence. It's strange - no one in my family enjoys going to the beach. My father is terrified of the ocean. Whenever I dive in though, I love it. I'm not a big athlete, so I've never surfed or been a terrific swimmer, but I have discovered that it is a simple pleasure just to float in the water for a while, bob up and down with the current. I feel free. It's like I'm taking time off from my journeys to unwind.

The beach I went to has got to be one of the most beautiful in the metropolitan area - a little private beach near Condado. It was quite empty, as it's Tuesday and I went around midday but there were enough people that I felt safe. We spread a huge blanked and started toasting under the sun. After a while I felt too hot, so while my friends kept on sunbaking I dove headfirst into the water.

It's funny how I used to hate the tourist that came to the beaches in Puerto Rico because I found them to be mostly rude; but after this class my eyes have been opened and I realized I have been a tourist too. We are all humans, we all have the right to enjoy what the Earth is offering us.

Whenever I go to the beach, my line of thought transforms from the everyday race to a diffrent way to see the world - I go slower, I think about everything I've done and how I've acted, and everything that I want to do. I always had this funny thought whenever my skin met the water- this water, the water that I am touching now, circa 2013 is and has been the water that's been around since the beginning of the Earth. This water has touched other water that other people have touched all throughout humanity's existence. Who knows if it's the same water that I swam in when I was just a kid. Who really knows? It's curious to think about that.