Keeping Warm (And Focused)

Leaping into it….

Hi everyone. Hope you are all well, and working diligently on your thesis progress. As a result of last week’s thesis conferencing, each of you has a personalized “to-do” as you move forward (…with consistent dedication). I look forward to seeing you on Tuesday evening, and I suspect that at the time of our meeting, we will just be emerging on the other side of a pretty significant “snow event”.

I hope you all keep safe and warm, and do your best to focus. It is a time to hunker down, stay put, and try to set aside some time for your own thesis progress as well. Be sure to blog what you have been working on, and we will pick up where we left off last week. I will check in with each of you, and we will also engage in some reflective processes.

AND I’M OFF…LETS DO THIS!

Hi guys! I feel relaxed, refreshed and ready to hit the ground running after our last class! I love the breakout rooms and the different activities we get to participate in. I find it really productive and it helps me to get the wheels turning. I also love hearing from all of you in a more intimate and personal way. At this point we’re all very comfortable with one another, but I think we still all benefit from the one one one or small group time that we share. Hearing in great detail about each of your thesis works, makes me feel more inspired and less alone. We all share many of the same fears and insecurities, regardless of what our particular projects are. We also share in the small triumphs and moments of clarity that we find throughout this process. Again, this all helps to propel me in the direction I need to go in to complete The Seashell.

Next up I’ll try my best to map out exactly what I’m working on going forward. After all the amazing feedback from Dr. Zamora last class, I have a clearer direction and plan of action in place. First, let me say I took a huge sigh of relief and a major exhale when I got the green light on the status of my literature review. Phew! I’m so thankful it looks clear, organized and categorized cohesively. I worked hard on it, but I had my doubts. My brain doesn’t do the research side as well as it does the actual creative writing side. I learned that the hard way in Dr. Nelson’s class! However, I surprised myself. I worked hard, did my best and earned a awesome grade that I’m proud of. Not to mention a completed proposal I also take great pride in.

So from here on out, I feel more at ease. I can drop my shoulders, unclench my jaw, and exhale a little more easily while continuing to push on. My next steps include: Creating new chapters and revising my existing chapters. Writing and allowing my story to evolve naturally and organically (thanks Em’s). No forcing, pushing, or putting any unneeded pressure on myself to create a “perfect” last chapter, which I know doesn’t exist. This is my story to tell, and that within itself is powerful enough to drive my story to exactly where it needs to be. From the beginning, middle and the end. If I don’t believe in my work, then who else will? Below is a small “map” or simple outline of what I’m working on going forward. ciao guys, see ya in class! Xo

*Table of Contents

*Chapters 1-10

*Some Chapter names include: Riptide, Brotherly Love, Tangled Roots, Oh Heavenly Father, Echoes.

*Prologue or No Prologue?

*Dedication

*Estimated page total: 100

*Final Thesis Presentation

See the source image

A Welcome Back to All

It feels great to be back in the classroom, but the task ahead is a serious one. Last semester was a real struggle for me to see myself through but I want to work to find myself having a smoother conclusion to this thesis process now. Last semester I started the process by panicking, but when that didn’t seem to do much for me I looked to the theses of my classmates to try to understand where they were coming from. What I found was that there was a strong pull to expression and writing from experience. It was effectively this self-expression that had always dogged me in my life so I decided then to challenge myself to write my thesis in a similar vein.

I decided to incorporate my “background” of Comp Lit to assist in informing me of how to direct myself in my efforts since it does not come entirely naturally to me I don’t think. I found articles to help put to words the feelings I have on the importance of just general insight and self-awareness, as well as covering bases to help keep me on a positive vector and out of rumination. I also found articles which give some stability to the feelings I struggle with keeping from toppling over my efforts, namely feelings of falseness and a lack of identity. When Peter Elbow also feels like a phony I can at least rest assured that far more intelligent people than I have also struggled with my mortal concerns.

But I also wrote. I started an exploration and a chronicling of my history as a “””writer””” which amounted mostly to writing out what negativity there was to start for me but also an acknowledgement of the importance I placed on writing even then. I have always found inspiration through others so when I feel stuck I enjoy taking time to read academic and creative pieces which elevates my spirits and gives me perspective.

My plan for the semester is that every week I want to have between 2-3 entries in this “journal” as well as having at least one additional resource which helped me. That resource could be an article or it could be something derived from a novel which influenced me for that week and helped inform my process.

Thesis Denouement

It seems like just yesterday I sent an email to Dr. Zamora to inquire about the MA program here at Kean University.  Now I am in the last semester of this program and am drawing near the end of my thesis, and it all seems so surreal in a way.  Crazy.  Over break, I took some much needed time to decompress where I could, as my job got much busier and more intense as we entered the heart of the holiday season.  I had the chance to spend the holidays with my family and do some things that I wanted to do (finish watching Supernatural, continue working on my tattoo sleeve.)  My project, however, was never far from my mind.

I did make sure that I carved out some time to sit down and think about where I go from here with my thesis.  For me, the most important thing was to map out my story and get a final sense of the events and the order in which they are going to happen.  Now, some of these things can change depending on how these first few weeks of continued development play out, but the bulk of the story is definitely set, leaving me with the task of simply sitting down and writing it (piece of cake, right?)  

Mapping out my semester, I think the most important thing for me, especially early on in this semester is that I commit to writing for about two hours at a minimum a week to start, just to ensure that I do not drift too far away from it.  Allowing my classmates and Dr. Zamora in to see my progress and listen to their suggestions is going to be a large cog in the machine that is the production of my thesis.  I have reached the stage where feedback is the most important asset that we have in this class to make sure we are heading down the right track.  As far as timelines or deadlines that I have thought about for myself, I do not want to restrict myself or put myself under any more pressure than there is already attached to this project, so I am not going to give hard dates on when I expect to reach certain milestones.  Just want to let it all come to me as it comes.    

That’s all I have for you guys.  See you all tonight!

Thesis Part 2…

Starting class last Tuesday bought about a mix of emotions for me. I’m excited, nervous, motivated, and so many more emotions that I can’t directly name. Like I discussed with my peers last week my nervousness is centered around me completing my thesis project and feeling satisfied with my final project. I’m sure that I will be able to get there, and I have faith in both myself and my peers that we will all make it to the end. Class felt a little empty without the rest of our original cohort, but I am so proud of them completing their Master’s journey and I am wishing them well wherever they are!

As for myself, I am geared up and ready to get back into the swing of things and to continue my road/journey to completing my thesis. To start with, I took a look at the progress I made during first semester, and although I felt like I didn’t get much done (and that I could have done more) I am pleased with what I have accomplished so far. I have a ton of research that I will be utilizing in my writings and I have a good portion of chapters completed so far. My task for this week is organizing myself, creating a routine, and a timeline for my work. I also want to make the space and time to schedule a one-on-one with Craig from the library to help me add search for and add further research materials to use for my thesis project. I am excited to hear the feedback on my thesis proposal and that feedback will also help guide my journey to completing my project.

I have my drafted out daily schedule and my general timeline written down, and I’m ready to go. Here’s to a great final semester!

Mapping Out My Thesis & My Life…

Happy New Year guys! I’m so excited to be back in class and to see all of your smiling faces again! Stinks that it’s still onscreen and not in real life, but hey, I’ll take what I can get at this point. I’m sure 2021 will be kinder to us all! Alas, this is it, the home stretch! I can’t believe we’re on the verge of completing our thesis and graduating with our MA! But of course we still have more work to do before we can officially celebrate. I have no doubts we can do it and do it well! #GoUs! Having the unconditional love and support from this KUWP family has been the greatest gift! You guys, Dr. Zamora included, give me strength, ease my self doubts and push me forward in this sometimes uncertain journey. Believe me it doesn’t go unnoticed. I love you guys and THANK YOU.

Okay, so now back to business! As far as where I’ve been in my thesis voyage so far: I’ve made it past family traumas and hard truths, and past my inner demons and haunting memories. I’ve made it to the other side, full of hope and humbled by my long, yet healing journey through my mental illness. I still have my bad days but the good ones have been out weighing the bad. I pray this healing and peace continues. Always knowing full well, my mental health will ebb and flow throughout my entire life. I’m always hyper aware, and super conscience of this fact but I’m learning to let go and just take it one day at a time. Through writing my thesis so far, it’s helped me build up my armor. I’m ready and more prepared for whatever battles may lie ahead.

As far as where I need to go in my continuing thesis journey I have to push on in creating and naming each of my chapters and deciding what my final chapter will be. What do I want to say and leave my reader feeling and thinking and processing? This question semi haunts me, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself. I had a lovely conversation with Emily this past weekend and she gave me some great advice. She said to just keep writing and revise later. I plan to do just that with my final chapter. I will continue to write and let it evolve naturally. As I’ve mentioned before in class discussions and during my thesis presentation last semester, I was inspired by the memoir: Heartberries by Terese Mailhot. I’ve been emulating and using her format and style as my blueprint in my own memoir writing process. I will go into more details about this during my upcoming presentation. Stay tuned! Xo

Returning to our Rhythm

Welcome back to thesis time!

It was so great to see you last week, and I am just sharing here our google slides agenda from our first meeting of the semester (last week):

Here is a reminder for what to prep for this week:

____________________________

Also, some information about Virtual Research Days will be held on Tuesday, April 27 and Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

Research Days 2021 registration will open on February 1.

Presentation Formats:

Digital Poster Presentation 
Posters will be accepted on a first come, first served basis and displayed on the Research Days website. Students will have the option of recording a brief description of their project to be linked to their poster. 
 
Oral and Creative Work Presentation
Pre-recorded 3-minute videos

Important Dates
February 1 – Research Days Registration Opens
March 15 – Research Days Registration Closes

For more information visit the Research Days website at: www.kean.edu/research-days 

Contact researchdays@kean.edu with any questions.

Time to Reset: 1.19.21 (Post-Trump)

Google sites, Jan. 20, 2021

On January 19, 2021, I was excited to start the first day of my last graduate class. I spent the last week of 2020 with my children and husband, and we have grown closer during the pandemic. My boys are helping each other with AP Calculus and AP Physics; my college-age daughter who is stuck at home is bonding with her father; and we are enjoying home-cooked meals and desserts! We have settled comfortably into the rhythm of winter and pandemic life. I also felt a sense of peace when President Biden was elected as 46; I was tired of divisiveness tone of his predecessor and was afraid that if Trump had been re-elected that the Garden State would not be given sufficient doses of the COVID vaccines since it is not one of his beloved red states. I am happy to report that I received my first dose of Moderna on January 21, 2021. I had some muscle aches, a headache, and soreness on my right arm where the nurse Julibel (which is a combination of Julie-Abel) administered the shot.

As I reflect on my M.A. journey, I am amazed that time flew; the hardest part of this process for me was applying to graduate school. Applying to graduate was an agonizing part of the entire process. Change is difficult for me; I like routine and stability. However, once I was admitted to a suitable M.A. program, I was able to write. During this process of writing weekly blogs, I have evolved as a writer. I am more relaxed. I am more confident. I am enjoying free-writing since allows me to sort my thoughts and to reflect on important moments in my life.

In a couple of years, I will reread my blogs and recall important details of my life as a graduate student and a teacher during the pandemic. I will remember fondly my professors and my classmates, which were my source of stability during turbulent times. As for my M.A. Thesis, I have been thinking about education and equity as I am more aware of the educational inequities that exist in my classroom. I watch parents struggle to make online parent-teacher conferences. I only had five parents sign up for parent-teacher conferences; whereas, in my own children’s high school, all the spots were filled in five minutes. I also watched as some of the students struggle with internet connectivity. My students didn’t mind typing essays on the phones for several assignments as their laptops are being repaired by the one tech guy in our school; whereas, my children and other more privileged have their own laptops and do not depend on the school laptops. I also think of my one of my students who is living in India and trying to adjust to the differences in time zones. She tells me that some children without laptops and internet access in India haven’t in school since March 2020. At least students in America have access to an online education.

I am revisiting my Literature Review and reading more articles on education and equity. Presently, I am reading White Teachers / Diverse Classrooms, edited by Julie Landsman, and Chance W. Lewis.

(Google sites, Jan. 23, 2021)

In the beginning of the book, the editors share Paul C. Gorski’s poem “Becoming Joey,” where the speaker describes “an immigrant student’s search for his identity and his search for social acceptance.

Becoming Joey

José’s ten.
Looks six by size,
twenty in the eyes.

Down
the school-morning street
José ambles along
dotted lines of busses and cars
spitting exhaust like expletives.
They disturb his meditation,
a few final moments of peace.

José is frail but upright.
Smartly stitched hand-me-downs
hang from his slenderness.
Soles flop beneath battered shoes,
long worn but hanging on
if only by a lace.

José pauses in the schoolyard
where fairer kids laugh and scurry unaware
of this, his battle;
of this, his burden;
of these, his borderlands.
Behind him: cracked
sidewalks, frosted nights,
belonging.
Before him: playgrounds manicured,
classrooms heated against
some sorts of cold,
earnest lessons about a world
that doesn’t see him. 

Still José moves forward;
what feels in his stomach
a backward sort of forward.

Pausing in the doorway
José straightens his shirt,
trying to dust away
the stains of ancestry. 

Pausing in the doorway
José clears his throat,
trying to spit away
his alien voice.

Only then,
becoming Joey,
he crosses
into school.

— Paul C. Gorski

I love this poem since it poignantly captures my assimilation process along with so many other immigrant children. I plan to share this poem with my high school students. By reading this book, I hope that I am better equipped to reach all my students.

I am also in the process of creating a writing schedule. Dr. Zamora provided much needed advice during our first class; she said, “Make time to write.” Yes, I need to make time to write –perhaps just like making time to exercise. I have decided to write at night when the dinner is made, dishes washed, chores are done. I can unwind and write. I intend to have a draft of my article by my presentation date of Tuesday, March 8.

Recharged, and ready to go.

(Google sites, Jan. 22. 2021)

Time to Reset: 1.19.21 (Post-Trump)

Google sites, Jan. 20, 2021

On January 19, 2021, I was excited to start the first day of my last graduate class. I spent the last week of 2020 with my children and husband, and we have grown closer during the pandemic. My boys are helping each other with AP Calculus and AP Physics; my college-age daughter who is stuck at home is bonding with her father; and we are enjoying home-cooked meals and desserts! We have settled comfortably into the rhythm of winter and pandemic life. I also felt a sense of peace when President Biden was elected as 46; I was tired of divisiveness tone of his predecessor and was afraid that if Trump had been re-elected that the Garden State would not be given sufficient doses of the COVID vaccines since it is not one of his beloved red states. I am happy to report that I received my first dose of Moderna on January 21, 2021. I had some muscle aches, a headache, and soreness on my right arm where the nurse Julibel (which is a combination of Julie-Abel) administered the shot.

As I reflect on my M.A. journey, I am amazed that time flew; the hardest part of this process for me was applying to graduate school. Applying to graduate was an agonizing part of the entire process. Change is difficult for me; I like routine and stability. However, once I was admitted to a suitable M.A. program, I was able to write. During this process of writing weekly blogs, I have evolved as a writer. I am more relaxed. I am more confident. I am enjoying free-writing since allows me to sort my thoughts and to reflect on important moments in my life.

In a couple of years, I will reread my blogs and recall important details of my life as a graduate student and a teacher during the pandemic. I will remember fondly my professors and my classmates, which were my source of stability during turbulent times. As for my M.A. Thesis, I have been thinking about education and equity as I am more aware of the educational inequities that exist in my classroom. I watch parents struggle to make online parent-teacher conferences. I only had five parents sign up for parent-teacher conferences; whereas, in my own children’s high school, all the spots were filled in five minutes. I also watched as some of the students struggle with internet connectivity. My students didn’t mind typing essays on the phones for several assignments as their laptops are being repaired by the one tech guy in our school; whereas, my children and other more privileged have their own laptops and do not depend on the school laptops. I also think of my one of my students who is living in India and trying to adjust to the differences in time zones. She tells me that some children without laptops and internet access in India haven’t in school since March 2020. At least students in America have access to an online education.

I am revisiting my Literature Review and reading more articles on education and equity. Presently, I am reading White Teachers / Diverse Classrooms, edited by Julie Landsman, and Chance W. Lewis.

(Google sites, Jan. 23, 2021)

In the beginning of the book, the editors share Paul C. Gorski’s poem “Becoming Joey,” where the speaker describes “an immigrant student’s search for his identity and his search for social acceptance.

Becoming Joey

José’s ten.
Looks six by size,
twenty in the eyes.

Down
the school-morning street
José ambles along
dotted lines of busses and cars
spitting exhaust like expletives.
They disturb his meditation,
a few final moments of peace.

José is frail but upright.
Smartly stitched hand-me-downs
hang from his slenderness.
Soles flop beneath battered shoes,
long worn but hanging on
if only by a lace.

José pauses in the schoolyard
where fairer kids laugh and scurry unaware
of this, his battle;
of this, his burden;
of these, his borderlands.
Behind him: cracked
sidewalks, frosted nights,
belonging.
Before him: playgrounds manicured,
classrooms heated against
some sorts of cold,
earnest lessons about a world
that doesn’t see him. 

Still José moves forward;
what feels in his stomach
a backward sort of forward.

Pausing in the doorway
José straightens his shirt,
trying to dust away
the stains of ancestry. 

Pausing in the doorway
José clears his throat,
trying to spit away
his alien voice.

Only then,
becoming Joey,
he crosses
into school.

— Paul C. Gorski

I love this poem since it poignantly captures my assimilation process along with so many other immigrant children. I plan to share this poem with my high school students. By reading this book, I hope that I am better equipped to reach all my students.

I am also in the process of creating a writing schedule. Dr. Zamora provided much needed advice during our first class; she said, “Make time to write.” Yes, I need to make time to write –perhaps just like making time to exercise. I have decided to write at night when the dinner is made, dishes washed, chores are done. I can unwind and write. I intend to have a draft of my article by my presentation date of Tuesday, March 8.

Recharged, and ready to go.

(Google sites, Jan. 22. 2021)