A few months ago I discovered a cultish following of the Bullet Journal. And then the Buzzfeed articles started popping up. The bullet journal’s gone “mainstream.”
What is a Bullet Journal? Well, it’s a Continue reading →
I’m not much of a talker but I have things to say. I find that writing is a way for me to “talk.” Despite my inconsistency, I write because I find it therapeutic. Because, like everyone else, I react to things and I have opinions, too. I have a roster of public intellectuals and writers whom I admire, and aspire to be like.
My problem is that I don’t take myself seriously. Continue reading →
I have a feeling these “30 days later” briefs will become a recurring thing.
It’s been almost a month since I last wrote a 30-day “update” of sorts on the progress of the self-inflicted writing challenge.
Sad to say, I’ve returned to the old patterns of neglecting the writing. Or, I should say, drafting blog posts and publishing them to the public. (I am writing. semantics?)
Reason? GRAD SCHOOL.
This semester has found me, from Day 1, dancing and sloshing (?) around in books and papers and projects and proposals. Basically, I’ve been in my head, and trying to put in some hours at work to make some money. There’s always this lingering feeling that I need to post something (like my NYC Century write-up that has yet to be done…), but inevitably, school work hogs the space.
Prioritizing course work may not be a bad thing, but I’ve come to wonder if not sitting down and drafting a post for you, readers, is a way of not attending to my well-being.
‘Til the next 30 days.
UPDATED Dec. 12, 2015
Over the last decade, I’ve come to appreciate and love books. I love to read. I just don’t read enough. Of anything. So after reading Nicole Zhu’s post on reading 52 books in 52 weeks, I’m changing that.
Follow along in this post—which will be regularly updated. Maybe you’ll find a book you’d like to read out of my hodgepodge of an adventure.
This endeavor began on Aug. 15, 2015. Also, a ★ denotes my favorites.
9. Police in the Hallways: Discipline in an Urban High School★
by Kathleen Nolan
This book has been on my radar for a few months, and bought it half on a whim, half out of a possible need for it in my semester paper. My interest then also peaked when I found out that this book started as Nolan’s dissertation project while she was working on her Ph.D. at CUNY-Grad Center.
It’s funny how a small affiliation like that can get you motivated about something.
The book is focused on a single school in the Bronx and isn’t purely representative of all urban schools, especially in New York City, but it does offer important analysis on schooling, school climate, and the environment of education. More importantly it provides some insight in the way children of certain neighbors begin to perceive their schools in relation to the criminal justice system, and their relationships with law enforcement and authority figures.
8. The Anxiety Toolkit
by Alice Boyce
7. Feeding the Family: The Social Organization of Caring as Gendered Work
by Marjorie L. DeVault
6. The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life
by Erving Goffman
5. The City ★
by Robert Park, Ernest W. Burgess & Roderick D. McKenzie
I only had to read the first two chapters for class, but ended up reading the whole thing. And for the better.
I particularly enjoyed this book. I suspect that the book is slightly outdated, but the concepts themselves I find still hold true. Especially the chapter on ecology. Even if we have a better ecological understanding of the city, and the intricate networks and relations within it, taking an ecological approach to understanding and studying the city is important and not a frame that should only be applied to the bio-sciences.
If you’re looking for an overview in the study of the city, this a pretty good place to start. It covers a wide-range of topics found in urban environments from the newspapers, juvenile delinquency, neighborhoods, and religion to name a few.
4. Between the World and Me
by Ta-Nehisi Coates
My first e-book, I read this for my Fundamentals of Urban Sociology class. It’s a smooth read, one that can easily be done in a day.
The information regarding racism and the statistics Coates offers isn’t really new, especially if you regularly follow the issue, and if you’re familiar with the DMV and Baltimore areas. What I did enjoy about this book was the format in which he chose to write it.
Instead of a book in which the author appears to speak at the reader, he speaks to us through his son in the form of a letter.
This is likely a crude example, but if you remember those exercises you did in primary or middle school, where you write a letter to your future self (or past self if you did the exercise in your twenties), the book is a bit like that.
It’s insightful but more importantly it gives a humanizing element; an articulation of an experience that many people can relate to, while (some) others may empathize with. It’s revealing of a certain anguish and struggle of one person’s journey through a particular space, and a call for vigilance on the part of his offspring to live and embrace who he is but recognize where he is.
3. You Can’t Say You Can’t Play
by Vivian Gussin Paley
This book was recommended to me by a colleague of mine at university, after sharing a project idea for one our classes. It’s a light read.
It’s also not overly complicated, but Paley’s story reveals the complex nature of children’s play and the way they view their worlds. They know rejection is “wrong” (possibly because they’re told it’s wrong), and readily admit that they do the rejecting, but then find “loopholes” to justify when it’s okay to say “you can’t play.”
2. The Comanche Empire
by Pekka Hämäläinen (2008) ★
If you enjoy history, especially “alternative” history, this is one that should be read.
I like reading history that wasn’t covered in the high school texts because they’re more informative, but also get you thinking about how things intersect (and their resulting impacts from that intersection).
When we learn about westward American expansion and Native Americans, we’re often given the narrative of American exceptionalism and that the natives were terrible savages hellbent on killing white folk (or some white is good, native is bad story).
This work challenges the assumptions we were taught in middle and high school by showing that Native Americans throughout North and Central America—specifically the Comanches, since they are the focus of this book—were a well-organized polity with distinct cultural practices and economic needs.
So while the expanding white settlers may have perceived the Comanches to be greedy, unsatisfying savages, knowing only brutality and bloodshed, this book provides context into understanding the nature of the times, and the relationships between and the needs of both Comanches, Spanish- British- and French immigrants of the time.
On a technical note: this book is not rigidly bound by chronology of events. And this is refreshing. It maintains some timely order for ease of understanding how key events unfolded, but it’s not a “in 1829, this happened, and this happened, and this and this and this. Next chapter, in 1833, this…” etc., etc.
It’s a long read, but well worth if for those of you who have a little history nerd in you.
1. Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York
Edited by Sari Botton (2013)
I have a confession to make about this particular book. I started it in October 2014, and it’s taken me a year to actually finish it.
Ashamed? Not quite, considering the nature of the book. It’s not your average novel, and more like an anthology of the love-hate relationships writers have had with the Big Apple. The book starts almost like a series of love notes to the city. But over the course of the book, you begin to feel the confusion, frustration, and the love-hate relationships that are borne out of living here.
Not all the stories are spectacular, but they all offer an intriguing insight into what the city may or may not do for the
poor soul who chooses to move here.
My picking up the book also coincides with when I first moved to New York City to start grad school. That in itself reveals a lot about the infatuated feelings I had for the city. Gotham has much to offer, and I’ll unashamedly be looking out for more novels and stories that are about- and take place in the city.
I’m coming up on a month of writing (almost) every day, taking alternative posting dates between this blog and my bike blog.
It hasn’t been easy, but the (almost) 30 days of writing, while difficult, has been rewarding.
And tonight is one of those nights where I throw in a “cop out” blog post. But I have to wonder, for us writers, even if what we feel like is a “cop out” post, is it really such a post?
I can imagine that even if we just post a photo, or a quote, or some silly little line and publish it to get our “post for the day” in, it would be found to have some meaning to someone, somewhere.
Or is this some writer’s way of quieting the blow of some kind of guilt?
Anyway. In some fitting way, I came across this post on Medium on not writing—which spoke to me.I’ve attempted maintaining a blog for quite some time now. Initially I do fairly well, keeping up with a steady stream of posts. Thirty days later though, I just stop writing. I publish something here in January. Something there in February. Then three posts in March. Nothing in April. And the inconsistent publication of rambling thoughts continues in that fashion.
Not very good for online writing—of course, my stuff isn’t the New Yorker.
There’s a statement in this Medium post however, that got me thinking about writing and having a regular posting schedule:
The question I can’t answer is, would it be better to pound out a string of crappy, confusing blog posts that slowly improve, or just say nothing at all? Probably the former, but it’s far more painless to continue to go with the latter.
The latter is true. It is much more painless to just go dormant, only writing when the Muse strikes hard.
But not writing is not a friend of the writer.
Writing every day is hard. True, but thank goodness for writing prompts. Though, I find that even then the prompts have to feel right. Weird, I know. But in this game of writing regularly, you can’t ignore how you feel about a given prompt or some other nagging flag that’s itching at you to write.
It’s gotten to a point where it takes some creativity to get at the core of the prompt. And that’s been the fun part: not answering the prompt directly, but taking the “scenic route.”
What do people call that? Thinking outside the box? Yeah.
Not everything we write will be spot-on, 100 percent rainbow awesome. But I’ve come to the realization that writing everyday, even if it’s just a haiku or a photo, is one day that I got better at thinking and writing.
Writing everyday, even if it’s a crappy day, means you got that day’s practice in.
How do you guys battle those “slow” writing days?
Today’s post is inspired by The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”
[Aug. 2 – Update: The vines and bush were cut away a few days after I finished writing this post.]
Not much sunlight comes through this window. And what light does is obscured by the wall of green covering half the pane. You can’t really tell when it’s a gorgeous day out. You can definitely tell when it’s a shit day. Everything just looks and feels that much darker.
Continue reading →