Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Last Post

What a title. Very ominous and spooky.
Today Twin asked us, for our last post, to write sort of a last message. I guess a better word to describe this post would be a reflection on basically anything. So I'm going to reflect on my junior year. Looking back at this year, I can honestly say that I survived junior year. I don't think I thrived. It sure as hell wasn't fun. In fact, it was emotionally challenging and completely exhausting. Part of that is my fault-I can be very negative and very stubborn, which essentially translates to I hold onto old hurts and view every situation as something that will hurt me. At the same time, I was dealing with my mental issues-my depression took a very steep turn this year. I got very paranoid, very anxious, and very tired. Of everything. I withdrew a lot, because I couldn't possibly comprehend a situation where I was wanted. Then there were relationship issues-rejection and break ups which to anyone else are a part of life, but that I take very seriously. It really affects me.
So, did it suck? Hell yeah. Does it feel like I wasted a year that could have been spent having fun and being a teenager? Also hell yeah. But did this year lack meaning? Not at all. I think struggles have their own purpose in life. It's not really living unless you are forced to deal with less than perfect situations at times. Clearly no one wants depression or anxiety. But as we saw in the video today, life is full of brick walls.
My brick walls (my mental illnesses) would stop me in my tracks. They would tell me nasty things about myself and make it hard to do basic everyday things (text friends back, do homework, etc). It sucked, but it did not mean I was stuck in my situation. It simply meant that I would have to go a different way to figure things out, and to try and live the best life I could.
I wish I could say that I knew why brick walls exist for me-I don't know what I want to do in life, so I'm not really getting a clear message on what my future should be or what I should do. I'm not all knowing and my life is clearly not all together, so I'm just going to have to speculate on their purpose. My best guess would be that these walls exist for me to prove that I can overcome things. Facing a wall may suck, but being able to get through it? Yeah, that's an exhilarating feeling.
Life, I assume, is based on a lot of challenging moments, that are only worth dealing with because of the few, great chill moments. I can't say this for certain, because I've only been alive for sixteen years. Hell, maybe there's some super cool meaning of life that's revealed when you graduate out of college, because why else would twenty-somethings be so weird?
Lots of things can be overcome. Especially situations that seem way too overwhelming to even be possible. But it is possible. Life is basically a lot of people saying, 'I don't like this situation. So I'm going to change it.' It's how a man who was going to die in six months was able to give a great presentation about life, not death. It's somewhat incredible what people can work themselves through. We need to give ourselves a lot more credit. And we also need to stop worrying about things that we can't control.
Life happens and we can't really stop it. We can't stop the struggles, we can't stop the problems. Things happen no matter how perfect a life may be. It's the attitude that matters.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Essay Idea #4

My mother's family is from the Azores, so naturally my older sister and I were raised staunchly Roman-Catholic. I have so many memories from my childhood, many of them shaped by my faith. I remember going to church every Sunday, and eating donuts after mass. I recall all of the times I spent with my friends at CCD. I cannot help but recollect about playing an angel in the Christmas pageant or Mary in the reading of the Passion, having my nose filled with incense.
When I was thirteen I started questioning what I had been taught my whole life. It was not rebellion or fighting the power. I had been bullied severely for several years, and I could not process why I had been through what I had been through. I could not understand how the trauma could have occurred-why would God have let this happen to me? I had been faithful as a little girl, and always kept a miniature Nativity scene besides my bed. Why would God have left me alone? I turned away from a community that had once brought me comfort. Adding to the sadness I felt about what had happened in the past, there was this new loss. My mother insisted I keep going to CCD and to mass. She wanted me to continue getting the sacraments and to eventually get confirmed. For me, I felt that there was no meaning to it, and I pushed it away as stubbornly as she pushed for it.
I ironically applied to Saint Raphael Academy when I was in eighth grade. Despite how insistent everyone seemed to be towards religion, it was at least an escape from all the negativity and sadness I had felt in elementary and junior high school. Many of the upperclassmen talked about how Saints had changed them, but I never felt that way until my sophomore year, when the Drama Club put on a production of Godspell. I worked on costumes for the show and was part of the stage crew. Godspell quickly became my favorite play. Finally there was a religious story that I could actually feel like I was part of. I was able to understand the meaning of Catholicism, through the community and trust the cast and crew built towards one another. I could identify with the feelings of being completely isolated, and finally feeling welcome in a newfound community. I could definitely see myself as Jesus, having been betrayed by close friends before. Overall it was probably one of the most important events in all of my high school career.
So when I finally was able to get confirmed, I did it wholeheartedly. I remember my confirmation in vivid detail. The smell of incense, the feeling of the chrism on my forehead. I picked Saint Joan of Arc for my saint name. Like me, she had been misunderstood and mistreated, but she had risen above it with honor and dignity. To many people, a confirmation may not seem like a very big deal. But to Catholics, it is a symbol of becoming an adult in the church. When I became Emily Joan Craig, I had finally become an adult, and I was happy I had achieved this milestone.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Essay Idea #1

Mental illness has always shaped my life. The first time I went to a therapist, I was seven years old. I was having problems with OCD. It is a misconception that OCD is simply cleaning and hating germs. For me, it was switching lights on and off, turning the kitchen faucet back and forth, and opening and closing doors. I have a history of self harm, which started when I was only thirteen years old. For someone who was raised in such a loving, supportive household, the way I would mistreat myself might seem almost ridiculous. But for such a young person, who had no idea what was going on or why I felt so terrible, it was the only way to force my feelings out of my system. By the time I attempted suicide, I had dealt with cutting, depression, and anxiety.
The hours after my suicide attempt were probably the most uncomfortable in my life. My mom insisted on staying with me in the ER, which she probably thought would be comforting. It was, of course, the exact opposite. Between glaring at me and yelling at me, it only made me feel more awful about the situation.
I am not proud of what my life has been like, or the violence I have inflicted on myself. For some reason, there is a sense of shame around mental illness. Those who are mentally ill are seen as unstable and dangerous, but in my case, I felt heartbroken and overwhelmed. But just because I am not happy about the past, does it mean that my future is set in place, or that I should feel ashamed.
Mental illness is just what the name says-an illness. If those who were depressed were treated like those who have cancer, maybe they would be given love and encouragement, instead of being told they are lazy and worthless.
People consider suicide to be cowardly. In my opinion, they have no idea how much courage it takes to not only admit there is a problem, but to ask for help. It is so incredibly difficult to reach out when the mind is saying that there is no hope or chance for the future. So why make such a controversial topic the main focus of my essay? If I look at the story of my life, it does more harm than good to ignore the bad things that have happened to me. My life is my set of experiences-some of them were great, and some of them landed me in the hospital on April 30th.
More importantly, having to have dealt with mental illness has made me both stronger and more determined. Many people say that they are tough or hardworking, but I can honestly say I was given the chance to give up, and in the end I chose to keep going. I chose to live. I have been at the lowest point in my life, and there is no where else I can go but up. Through a suicide attempt I have a different outlook on life. I cannot say that I automatically felt better. It simply does not work like that. But I can say that I realize that life is something I do not want to miss out on. I want to learn, I want to travel, I want to go on adventures. I risked losing the most precious thing, my existence, and because of that I am able to fully value what I have been given.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Literary Fallacies

Well, I'm pretty sure I messed up on this before. So take two! I'm going to use Inherit the Wind.
Appeal to Authority: If religion is good enough for Matthew Harrison Brady, then it is good enough for the country.
The Fallacy Fallacy: Brady uses Texas Sharpshooter to point out facts that only work with creationism, not facts that go against it. Henry Drummond points out that he uses a fallacy, but then acts as if his error alone proves that creationism is wrong.
Genetic Fallacy-Brady assumes that because Drummond is an agnostic, he is immoral, so everything he believes in or does is tainted by this.

So, hopefully I did this right!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Those Who Enjoy Art vs. Those Who Produce Art

Ok, so I wasn't in class on Wednesday so I didn't see the video. But from what Darling was telling me I think I can pretty much make a blog post anyway.
Alright, so we live in the magic digital age, where content is always being created and viewed. To some however, they believe that the constant connection to new and original material is harming the younger generation. They don't have to wait for new animated movies to come out every few years, because children's movies and tv shows are constantly being created. Theoretically, children will not appreciate the quality of good media when they are given it because they are constantly viewing cheap media. However, I can't help but disagree.
Being able to view media is important-it allows children to create and imagine new situations based on what they see everyday. Viewing media is the first step to creating media. Reading new books. listening to new music, watching new movies inspires people to create their own books, music, and movies. There is a saying that the first step to being a good writer is to constantly read. It easily makes sense-to be able to write well, a person must be exposed to all kinds of plots, characters, and situations. Being exposed to media won't make kids too lazy to create their own-in fact, it does the opposite. It's human nature to want to create things to live beyond our legacy. It's why so many real and fictional people want to write books, like Nick Carraway, Anne Frank, and Liesel Merminger.
Perhaps the first media that is created by new content creators is not the best. The older generation thinks that the new generation will fail to make classic films like Cassanova or Snow White, or books like the Great Gatsby or Of Mice and Men. They just need the chance to make media. Fitzgerald wasn't perfect at first, neither was Disney.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Election Tidbits

Today in class we watched a video by John Oliver focused on how money intercepts political elections. While many people are for taking money out of politics, no one party is willing to go first, and no one party wants pay cuts. Money is sadly the necessary evil that comes with elections. The more money a candidate has, the larger their platform and the further they can reach.
While money fuels elections and connects many people to a candidate through commercials, ads, and posters, I must agree with Oliver. The work is the most important thing, ensuring hard work and following the Constitution is what is supposed to be important. Of course, due to SCWAMP those with money have more power. The Founding Fathers themselves were rich aristocrats, not the everyday man. When money gets mixed in things go awry. A candidate that campaigns for money ensures that they can be reelected.
If a candidate is always begging for money how can they do good for the country? All I can think of were the elite during the 1920s, who were so wealthy that the only time they worked was to gain prestige. I think of parties and large feasts, not current issues and challenging the system.
Many people share the same views but with money so ingrained in our culture and politics it's hard to focus on anything else. Someone needs to take the first step. After all, the higher you are the harder you fall.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Show This, Tell That

Comics get a bad rap. Most of the time they're seen as trashy or just a waste of an opportunity to read a book. While comics use pictures, that does not mean they're not as in depth as books. Graphic novels are getting some respect, which is great. However, some people still do not see the mix of words and art as real literature or real art. McCloud, however, the author of Understanding Comics, and the comic "Show and Tell" is able to convince even the most stubborn reader that putting words and pictures together has some merit, all through his use of ethos.
Ethos is using authority to add credibility to a piece. McCloud, as a comic book artist, has experience creating stories with pictures and words. He worked as an artist for DC Comics, created his own series, and written several books. His experience with creating visual literature gives him the credibility to explain why comics and graphic novels are pretty great, even for the oldest reader.
On the first two pages, McCloud draws himself as a child, connecting the reader (every reader was once a child) to the act of interchanging words with symbols and pictures.
On the fourth page, he explains how pictures and words go so well together. Words and pictures work together to get an idea across that would have been hard to understand otherwise. Clearly, as an artist, he understands how important putting words and images together to create one unique idea is. He lists seven different ways words and images interact: word specific (pictures add a point), picture specific (words create sounds), duo-specific (both words and images put the same idea across), additive (one concept enhances another), parallel (words and images work together but seem to go down different paths, so to speak), montage (words are pictures and pictures are words), and interdependent (both words and pictures needed to get the idea across). McCloud's knowledge on the subject and his clear concise explanation of each type of interaction shows that he clearly knows what he's talking about. The examples he provides allows the reader to clearly see where each interaction would be used.
In the next few pages, he draws a short comic about a girl getting ice cream. It's raining, she's crying, and then she eats the ice cream. The next set of panels is only words. Together, it creates a visual story. However, the words for the images do not have to match perfectly:
An image of a girl crying may be seen as sad, but by using words, she can say that she's happy about say, a surprise or a birthday. Using words and pictures is simply another way to delve into creating stories. It is not simple, and McCloud says that finding a balance can be hard. But clearly, with his experience, he's figured it out.