Striving for the Stars

Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to get my PhD. My parents never went to college, so I didn’t have an easy life growing up. I lived in a poor neighborhood in Long Beach, CA where gangs were a real threat. My best friend growing up turned into a major gang member. Just last summer, some guy was shot in the neck right across the street from my house.

I guess part of the reason for me wanting a PhD is because I thought that that was my ticket out of the ghetto. That I could get out and never, ever have to go back. I mean, I was a white girl with blonde hair and blue eyes growing up with potential murderers. No one thought I would make something of myself. Hell, everyone thought I would get pregnant by the time I was 16. Never mind the fact that I never acted in a way that predicted such outcomes for my future.

I was always the quiet one with my nose in a book. I loved the library. I loved school. I was even in the chess club in elementary school. Yet somehow, I was always the bad influence that would bring the other kids down.

Again, it wasn’t like I was staying out all hours of the night or roaming around the neighborhood looking for trouble. My parents were young parents, sure. I was the first kid and they were only 22 years old. But did that mean I was automatically doomed to a future of crime and sex? Just because they were too young to have their ‘ducks in a row’ and couldn’t afford a nicer house in a nicer neighborhood? I didn’t think so.

Although my parents were young, they did a pretty good job raising me, even though I didn’t think so at the time. I had a curfew, which was that I had to come on once the street lights on the block came on. I had to do chores like do the dishes, take out the trash, and feed the dog. I couldn’t go past the alley on the other side of my neighbors house or go past the blue apartments right next to mine. There were certain kids I couldn’t hang out with, words I couldn’t say without getting slapped or a shoe thrown at my head (true story). Homework needed to be done and checked every night. Nightly talks with my parents were a must.

I had structure. Something a lot of kids I grew up with didn’t have.

My best friend growing up was this kid named X (not really, for this purpose it is). He was half white, which is what made me feel a connection to him, I think. I wasn’t alone. Anyways, X came from a family of gangsters and drug dealers. He always told me that that wasn’t the path he wanted to go down. He was even mocked for it. Instead taking after the rest of them, X was a skater type. We’d ride around, hanging out, talking about getting away from the streets of LA, and actually doing something with our lives that wouldn’t lead to us getting killed. I’m not saying X was a good kid. He didn’t do well with authority, or school, and he got angry really really easily. But he wanted to be different.

He didn’t get that chance. By the time I was a junior in high school, X had already gotten hauled off to jail for armed robbery. The summer I came back after my freshman year away from college, he had already killed someone. Now, he has a baby, a baby momma, and he practically runs his family gang. He’s only 19.

So yes. This is all a reason for me wanting a PhD. To show everyone there that I got out. That I actually did something with my life instead of wasting it.

But mainly, it’s because I want to get my family out of there too. My parents and two little sisters still live in that same neighborhood, in that same house. I was to show my sisters that they have something to look forward too. That they don’t have to get stuck on what that place does to people. I want to give them someone that they can look up to that won’t lead them to getting shot.

I also want to show my parents that they did right by me. That even though it was hard and somethings I was an absolute pain in the ass, they didn’t do anything wrong and that I made it. Because of them, I made it.

It’s that time of year, and that time in my life and my undergraduate career where I am starting to look at graduate schools and PhD programs. I have a ton of dreams that I never thought would be possible, but inch by inch, they are getting closer and closer to being obtainable.

So I thank that neighborhood in Long Beach, California. I thank it for making me want to reach for the stars. I thank it for showing me just who I didn’t want to be. I thank it for being hard, and tough, and oh so tempting. Because without it, I don’t know who or where I would be.

Can Blogs and Wiki Be Merged?: Response

After reading Can Blogs and Wiki Be Merged? by Mike Caulfield, I’m not totally sure that blogs and wiki can be merged. Wikis were made with the intention that people could work on a shared space. Blogs, on the other hand, are for individual people to work by themselves in their own space.

If you merge these two, then what does that become? An area of shared and personal space? How does that work?

Its completely manageable to share ideas on a blog. The creator posts an idea, a reader comments, whether it be a correction in the information or an addition, and then the creator as the option of editing the most. Isn’t that sharing as well? Of course, it’s not the same as actually being able to control the post, but it can lead to more accurate information.

What would merging blogs and wikis do? Would it add to the experience of blogging or posting to a wiki? I don’t think so. I think that people who post to wikis like it because of what it is and the people who blog like that because of what it is.

Wikis

I’m not too sure about the wikis.

Once I updated the first Wiki Page (CollectiveWriting), I was a little more confident. I started to understand the way to make lists and headings and what not. By the last page, WikiTheWriting (which I wrote up from scratch), I felt like I knew what I was doing, even though I didn’t write as much as the previous two. The second page, WikisAsSocialNotebooks, was already pretty updated, it seems like the person who refactored it before me put a lot of work and effort in, so I just kind of did research and added what I thought would work with the direction she was going with the post.

WikiTheWriting is not done in the slightest. I did research on it, and really the only thing I found was an article from Writing Commons called Getting Started Writing on a Wiki which is actually an article about what Professor Morgan wrote for this course.

I think the more I work on it, the more normal it will seem and the more I’ll get a hang of it.

Monday Night Deadline Post

I’m sitting here, watching Criminal Minds, writing my Gabriel Garcia Marquez essay, drinking orange juice, and eating cheese and crackers, when I realize that its 11:11 pm and I totally forgot to do my last require post for Wikis and Weblogs. So please don’t mind the title, or how awful this post is going to be.

To be absolutely honest, I haven’t dealt with the wiki much. I set up the WikiNamePage, added that extra page, posted about it, and that’s about it. I really don’t like it. (link to last post about wiki) Especially the linking to outside sources. On here, all you have to do is press the hyperlink and it does everything for you, but on the wiki you actually have to deal with the code and hope you didn’t fuck it up.

And don’t get me started on the readings. I don’t know if it’s just this week, or I just can’t get it.

Writing on a Wiki

I’m sure if I sat down with it for a day and actually worked with it…. no, I probably still wouldn’t like it.

It just seems like I can be more creative with the blog. I can put more of myself in it. As with last week and the Identity assignment, I feel like I can show who I really am on the blog, more so than on the wiki.

Hopefully that all changes by the time that this class in over.

And hopefully his next week is way better than this past one. I’m not sick anymore, my car is finally getting looked at so hopefully I’ll have it back soon (it died on me this past Wednesday and started smoking like there was an electrical fire), I will have a ride for Senate meeting, which I can’t miss again, and I’m starting my favorite diet in hopes that I will have more energy and be more motivated.

See you all in class tomorrow! and good luck on the wikis!

Thoughts on Wiki

So, the Wiki is kind of confusing. Just because the formatting is different from the blog and it’s kind of hard to keep track of everything that needs to be done.

Too be honest, I’m not completely sure if I like it or not.

WordPress is pretty must as straightforward as it gets. You are given a template, you use it, you have a blog.

This on the other hand, needs three different articles to make sense of. At least it did for me. And I’m still not confident that I’m doing it right.

Reflection

The self-portrait was a hard assignment for me. How do I capture who I am in 3 blog posts? How do I capture the feelings that run through me when I see the beauty around me? How do express my love for life? My personality? Who I am below the surface that everyone see’s? My likes, my dislikes, my loves, my hates, my indifference’s?

Can 3 blog posts do that?

I believe I succeeded, if only to capture three things that represent me the most. You might not get a ton from those three things, but to me, in order to be happy and be the best person I could be, these three things are essential.

In the first self-portrait I posted, I expressed my love for books. As I mentioned, my reading got me through a lot of difficult times in my life, and helps me de-stress and free my mind, body, and soul. It makes me lighter, happier, and gives me the opportunity to travel to different places around the world. (my favorites include Washington, Scotland, and Ireland.)

In the second post, I mention my love (and necessity for) coffee. Of course, this may not be, or seem like, a self-portrait, but to me and those who know me, know that without it, I’m not me. I’m tired, not focused, and definitely not as friendly.

The last self portrait may be the most important to me. My faith, like my books, help me through a lot. Although, I’m not your traditional Lutheran Christian, which may rub wrong with a lot of people who read this. I believe in evolution full-heartily. Kind of hard not too with all the scientific evidence, and like many know, I was a biology major for 3 years and actually wanted to get my PhD in Evolutionary Biology. I also don’t really believe in the bible. Again, kind of hard to believe in a book written by human men during times where women weren’t equal. I also can’t believe in a God that wouldn’t accept people based on who they love or because they don’t feel right in their own skin. To me, if God made us how we are, doesn’t that mean he made some of us homosexual or transgender? And if he didn’t, what about forgiveness? As long as we don’t kill or be horrible people, don’t we all get to be happy? I do believe in God, don’t get me wrong. I believe in heaven and I believe that in order to get there, you have to be a good person. If you make mistakes, then wear them with pride and ask to be forgiven. Forgive, love, be kind, and live.

This post might cause some… conversation. And if you don’t believe in what I do, that’s totally fine. We’re supposed to have freedom of religion in the US right? At least, that’s whats in the constitution. And I may be naive, but it pains me that as must as we preach that we live in a free country, we are all judged for how we live, who we love, which version of God we believe in, or how we look.

This reflection turned into something I didn’t start out to write, but those are the best kinds of posts, right?

 

Posts since last reflection: Devil May Cry quote, Homemade Mac and Cheese, Chicken Mozzarella Pasta with Sun-Dried TomatoesTips for Staying Positive and Reducing StressSelf-Portrait: 1Self-Portrait: 2Self-Portrait: 3