slow starts/turns

spread the to-do list horizontally so that is becomes tangible in its longitude. that way, too, it doesn’t push downward, creating layers of sedimentary (sedentary) rock. looking too long at a computer at a desk creates tunnel vision and thoughts get that way too. stand up; turn; spin. until the thoughts become loosened again.

i have no life to this is my life – i think i’m starting (pausing/moving). listen to myself in turning (spinning); it makes most sense then.

personal statement lacks personality (the very thing it is meant to convey?)

While personal statements aren’t impersonal, you don’t quite have much creative control over how you present yourself. I’m working on mine for a graduate assistantship and am cringing at what I have written on this page. This plain, alphabetic text full, black and white, standard doc page. I suppose it’s not bad, because it is what I’ve done and what I want to do, but it’s bland. 

Why is it that straying from the norm only seems acceptable within an art curriculum? I don’t want to do anything too wild, like send in a hand sewn book of scans of my face with text composed of dry spaghetti, but something different would be nice. Especially considering my academic/pedagogical interests in the teaching of writing as pushing beyond this.

A Cornell box would do nicely, I think. Associations of jotted teaching aspirations and explanations of intent with objects that represent me personally. I would live up to these things. I could return to these things and add to them. re-arrange them. Make them my teaching fo writing philosophy and credentials.

Cornell box image from Creativity Fuse

farting around, professionally speaking

a truth

For our first assignment in ENGL527: Topics in Multimedia Writing, we were to create a two minute story to introduce ourselves to one another, presenting the same story in two different Web 2.0 platforms. Despite the short time frame, this project took substantial time to create, which always seems to be the case. While I didn’t explicitly track the hours invested, I would estimate the total to be upwards of 50. No exaggeration. While some of this was due to nasty spurts of “perfectionism”, it was also the sputters that come with finding images for fair use, exploring utilities of platforms (many platforms) and their abandonment, and actually creating content.

Perhaps not very extraordinary, my first platform was Youtube. I haven’t done anything with video before, aside from recording myself teaching during my internship to share with my class. I got my first video camera for Christmas this year and wanted to try it out. I edited the piece in iMovie and recorded narration to lay over the video in Audacity. While the video isn’t what I imagined when I created a story board for it, I think it works. Simple? Maybe. But creating wasn’t simplistic, even though I was using user friendly tools. Example: It was difficult to figure out how to get rid of audio from when I recorded the movie. I thought recording narration would just sort of trump the original audio, which wasn’t the case. I don’t want to know how many hours it took me to figure out how to solve this. In the end I turned down the original audio in each clip; perhaps this doesn’t truly qualify as “solution”.

For my second platform, after much experimentation, I used
Vuvox – an interactive collage/slideshow tool. I arranged photos that I’ve taken along with photos that met creative commons fair use standards from Flickr. I didn’t use the same narration from my video, opting to create a podcast in Garageband of the story instead to accompany the visuals. Vuvox also allows users to embed video/links/other media within their collage. A little icon on the image indicates that something is there, and when hovering over it, a description comes up for the viewer to pursue if they should choose. Kinda neat. No real issues with this platform beyond aesthetics.

(I wanted to examine the effects of telling the same story once with images, and once with video. I tried the two different audio recording programs just as an experiment in their usability, features, etc. I don’t think I can say much on their range of abilities, as I just recorded my script straight through in both programs. Garageband seemed easier to use, mostly because exporting from Audacity was a little tricky (required downloading “lame”; kind of weird, but straightforward after that). I’m not sure if I’ll use Audacity again, since my Mac comes with Garageband and Audacity is just taking extra space.)

Now, The Tale of Two Platforms. Thinking of a story is difficult. I went to Japan last spring and wanted to tell something about my trip, but couldn’t decide what was interesting/appropriate (not that my trip was inappropriate) to share. Searching my experiences and tidbits about myself, nothing seemed “worthy” of telling. I decided to tell the story for self searching, which ended up as selfs searching. I titled my story “A series of Stops and Starts: Vignettes on Discovering I in the Plural”. This is particularly poignant at this very instance of time (right now, and the moment right after that). Identity exploration and formation is at the heart of my graduate school experience. I came here for a reason, but I wasn’t sure what it was. It’s easy to assume that graduate education is something to do, an accolade, an accomplishment, an extra acronym to put within the education section on my resume. But it’s all exploration. I is not a singular construct to be achieved. I left teaching because I didn’t feel like I. Obscure. Try again. I felt like I had to be a singular I, and that this I was in tension with the other I’s that compose me. Try again. What I wanted to do as the educator I was in conflict with the I the school hired me to be, with the I dominant structures of education want me to be. I started contorting to fit these I’s for my position, but I would never fit this frame.

Identity is something often associated with a profession, a credential, a passion. I am a neurosurgeon. I am a painter. I am an activist. These I’s are singular, but no one is this concise, this limited. We exist as many I’s all the time; sometimes one is simply the focus. Because it’s easier to convey? Constraints of time to explain? Because we’re worried we’re uninteresting in our other I’s (why does neurosurgeon impress more than lunchbreak painter of colleagues’ trash and scraps in the lunchroom?)

I charted my identity identifiers from childhood until now: a gypsy, Jacques Cousteau, a science-ist of some kind, a studying chemist, a studying English major (which does not necessarily equate to “Writer”), an “English” teacher, a graduate student, an explorer. I ended with a quote (wait. you’re not supposed to start/end on a quote! tacky! how very cliche.) from the very quotable Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. from A Man Without a Country “We are here on Earth to fart around. Don’t let anybody tell you any different.” I’s think that sets it up/sums it up quite well. Don’t you’s?