Tobey's Thesis Thoughts 2016-01-31 21:26:00

Freewrite Take Two

This one is a little harder getting started on. Writing about my career, about what I love about it is so easy to address. It is such a part of me, and a proud part. But this topic, this is hard. This is new. This is unclear. Writing to Heal. It is a therapeutic practice. It is something I know is done, there are studies about how it has helped women of domestic abuse, veterans, cancer patients, and so on. There are support groups and therapists who use it as a best practice. But it only became important to me, when it happened to me. When I allowed myself to create work that mattered and that opened me up to look inside of myself and say, "Hey, it's time...Write..." 

The question for me is why were those writing moments safe for me? Why did I feel that I could write about difficulties in my life that I hardly spoke about or shared with anyone at those moments? And not only that, but then after sharing it with these new people in my life, I could have kept the pieces hidden and put them away, but I went on to share them with my therapist. The writing became a catalyst to conversation and propelled my healing forward. 

I remember thinking about all the suppressed thoughts I was carrying about my mom and all of these words that I associated with her passing. Knowing that I had this opportunity to put it to paper and then do nothing with it if I chose, felt safe. So I did.  It was like a release. I wanted more of that feeling and thought that by taking the next step and sharing my writing I could have more of that freeing feeling. I was right. 

Ok, so this is also important and very personal to me. But I'm not a psych major and I don't want to take the approach of one. Just doing a quick peek at what's out there in the world of studies, there are a lot. So, how do I take a fresh approach to this topic through the viewpoint of a writing study? Can I focus on myself? Perhaps continue to write pieces that focus on the topics I work on in therapy and maybe analyze my process of healing as I do so? That could be one way to marry the psych and writing worlds together. Maybe something worth talking about...

Tobey's Thesis Thoughts 2016-01-31 20:22:00

Trying to Gain a Focus Freewrite

What makes me happy when I teach writing to my students? This is a loaded question because there are so many answers! I can think of very specific moments with very specific students, but when I think of bigger-over all-hey my kids got it-moments-or I love teaching this to my students moments-there are a lot! Perhaps a list will be best.

I am really happy when:

  • powerful, important, and meaningful topics are selected for their writing pieces
  • a personal writing goal is mastered by any student 
  • meaningful revision work takes place and they understand that it is improving their work
  • a one on one conference goes well
  • I can use my own writing as mentor texts 
  • they say they loved a unit or a particular writing piece they created
  • their writing is transformative in some way on a personal level
  • a strategy group succeeds 
  • an advanced student challenges himself outside of his comfort zone
  • I find the perfect mentor texts
  • they use their Writer's Notebooks well 
  • I feel like I taught a lesson well
A few proud moments this year:
  • Ian hugged his writing portfolio because he was so proud of the work he had done
  • Karina captured the heartbreak of missing her dad a few years after he died through the use of symbolism in her piece
  • Realizing that half of my second block didn't know when to indent, and three strategy groups later, most of them were using paragraphs!!!
  • Seeing "author's crafts" being used regularly in most of their writing pieces.
  • Persuasive topics about gun control, marriage equality, Seaworld's treatment of the orcas, animal abuse, benefits to organic eating, sexism, and so on...
  • Jayden, "My revisions have revisions!"
  • Shannon, "I am no longer allergic to revising my work."
  • Rosemary, "Ms. Martinez, please finish writing your turtle story. It would make the best mentor text."
  • Diksha, "Ms. Martinez, you are the best mentor we have."
  • Fighting for the author's chair!
  • A successful conference with Ryan about authentic dialogue.
I can keep adding to both lists. There have been so many proud moments and so many reasons why I love teaching my kids writing. I don't know if having so many thoughts is a good thing for narrowing down a thesis idea, but it's good that I still love my career choice.




Yes! on the revitalized blogging.

UnknownI am so glad your thesis blogs have been revived!   Such great work manifesting there.  Excellent.  I sense the momentum, and I am so pleased the writing meanderings/process in being documented more closely.

Some things I want to discuss tonight:

-Spring Symposium plan (April 21)

-Research Days panel (April 27 Deadline – Feb. 21)

-4Cs

Computers & Writing & my CL TV Series for May/June

-IS w/Dr. Balakian

-Digital design work embedded in the #NewMediaStudies Course.

See you soon,

MZ

 

Keeping My Creative Work Safe

After last week’s meeting I realized that Dr. Zamora and my classmates had no idea what my progress was on my writing. I was afraid to post too much of my work on the internet so I decided to make a google doc folder with all of my work included. In this folder I will have my literature review, my outline for my novel and my working novel as I decide to add things. This way I can document my progress but my writing won’t be so public. This is also a great way to keep all of my work in one place so i can stay organized.


I Prolly Shouldn’t Of Wrote This Like This, But Peep Game Bcuz I Got Your Superhero, Pt 2

**Y’all don’t mind me, aight? Just came to share some things re my ch.**

Abstract-y premise: A case against the “white is right” model in depicting Miles Morales as an nonwhite superhero, and a case for less white approach. Rather than strip Miles of the historically stigmatized characteristics that would perhaps make him a “hoodlum”, validate those characteristics by imbuing, easily, one of the most – if not the most – recognizable characters in the country, if not world, with them. I contend that these “less desirable” markers are not problematic if they are informed by relative social and cultural realities that make them so. Otherwise: nothing about said less desirable qualities should should make the character less heroic, or even less respectable. (It will likely be the case, though, but then the readers have to change, with their racist-selves.)

This also isn’t to say that Miles isn’t black or biracial enough – I mean, who can really say? It’s not clear what that really means. From a push-for-diversity standpoint, however, the force is strong in Miles for mainstreaming non-mainstream realities when it comes to gestural, cultural, behavioral, and/or even linguistic performances.

Sections (working list)

black superhero theory/history?

gender/-ed language (think: black hyper masculinity, black manhood, “acting gay”)

culture (namely, hip hop)

race traitors/doublestandards

code meshing (which will be interwoven throughout)

“Make Another Hov Miles”

 

 


Interpolative Demonstration of How Microaggessions Work, And How We’re All Susceptible to Them, And How Microaggressions Undermine Respectability Politics, And How It All Basically Does Jack For POC

Since our new director the Writing Center’s gotten very PC. Not to say that we were cavemen or anything before her, or that we just went around refusing service to people on grounds of [insert your historically stigmatized characteristic here], or at least I don’t think so.

What I mean is that we’ve actually communicated that it is now our goal goal to meet every incoming student we’re they’re at, wherever that might be, so to better meet their needs. We do this through these training workshops held at the top of every semester, whereby we half-close the center to train staff on the policies of the center; what to do when working with, say, an irate student; how to handle difference, be it cultural, ideological, et al; and/or how to use technology. (“Half-close” because it’s not as if student-clients can’t walk in and schedule appts for the upcoming days, week, weeks, months ahead. Sometimes people just want to pay a visit to their favorite tutor or inquire about employment, or need a finger pointed in the direction of where they can print documents, which we do not support – and that goes for being a lounge place where one can just chill on the computer for a little bit whilst listening to music until their class or they’re just ready to be ambulatory again – but I digress.) (Just know that we get all manner of cats coming to the “wrong” place.)

Now, it’s not necessarily mandatory that everyone attend training – lives and everything – I myself do however wish that more folks would come to our training on diversity and microaggressions. And this’s coming from someone whose not even all that sold on the issue. What I mean is that I don’t always see “microaggressions” as as derogatory as they’re automatically presumed to be. (As a question: What constitutes the validity of a microaggression claim as something actionable?) Our sensitivity to them now is irksome, like a new new sense; how they’re framed in terms of protecting POC makes me feel as though I’m unaddressable, i.e., Say the wrong thing and that’s yo ass, man! And: I want to say I’m pretty cool when it comes to x, y, z – most times – and I don’t need all the bubble wrap like that, in all honesty. Making my kind-of non-stance on microaggressions a difficult one for me to have to locate myself in, because: you would think, right?

Here I am, though. And even so, I just wish it were more of a priority for some people so as to better engage difference, if even to just understand the realities of certain people, even if nothing in them says, “Yeah, that’s worth it to give a what about,” at least they can’t say they didn’t know.

At any rate, microaggressions are defined as very very subtle jabs or insults “outside of the level of conscious awareness of the perpetrator” against a person on the grounds of their, perhaps, superficial identity/group membership; think of it as anything that downwardly constitutes who a person is based on preconceived notions of the group they represent. Think of it as latent racism. L I T E racism. Racism 2.0. An example would be someone paying me a compliment re how articulate I am (if one should think that!) as if to say that in their experience people who look like me do not sound as good (as if!) as me.

That’s considered a microaggression. Another would be asking an Asian-American where they come from as if they’re not American, or even complimenting them on their English as if it’s not their primary language. These are all micro aggressions just so you know, and typically they follow a one-way constitution model in that historically marginalized ppl. can lay claim to such mistreatment. And while seemingly harmless, Derald Wing Sue, who the expert on them, he say that microaggression can cause severe psychological damage. So: going back to the whole “sounding white” v “sound black”, what Wing Sue says is that enough encounters with this can threaten a person’s sense of who they are in relation to the world around them. E.g., if the popular idea is that people who look like me talk a certain way, then am I being traitor to people who look like me, because I just thought this is how some people talk. Now, whether or not that actually bothers me is beside the point, apparently, because the fact is that people’re miffed at people who commit microaggressions. But I have theory – or rather new way at looking at so-called microaggressions – because can a micro aggression be a microaggression sans taking into account the context wherein microaggression is happening?

Setting aside personal views of MLK, is it a microaggression if mid-March on Washington a white guy says to MLK that it’s good that as a black person he adopts respectability politics (i.e., talk good, look good, smell good, etc.) if such politics qualify him to speak on behalf of people who look like him in order to improve their situation? Considering the context and the so-called microaggression comes of as more of a compliment than a presumption of incompetence on the part of black people. It’s less “Good for you for being better than” and more “You are necessary right now”.

The last time I was “complimented” on my “performance” was by this one white professor of a class I’d been invited into to give an hour-long sermon on Chicago-style paper-writing. Trayvon Martin’s murderer had long since been vindicated, and protests against the unwarranted killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were making their rounds. Now, in the moment following the so-called microaggression I wasn’t thinking so much about how this white man had just “micro-aggressed” me as much as I was thinking about how damn good is was to be alive, and that maybe said white professor was happy to see me, too, that I was able to present in his class, with my black-self.

Which isn’t to say that all scenarios are as tricky or idyllic as the aforementioned; in some cases the intent is to rankle. I mean, ignorant people abound and no amount of “politicking” ever inoculated yrs. truly or another variant of minority from, say, a blatant “Fuck you, nigger, but we don’t want no homie shit tonight.” What exactly is the point of being held to an unfair standard of whiteness – oh, I mean rightness – that in theory is supposed to protect me from prejudice, et al, when I can be blown away simply because I look wrong or say the wrong thing; or even if I defend myself, be it physical or rhetorical? Think of Trayvon. Think of Sandra Bland. That this can and does go down problematizes POR (politics of respectability) in such a way that I don’t know if pro-POR POC are just fucking delusional or if the intent is to reinforce a “White is Right” standard by recruiting a “rainbow” clique representative of the very populace in need to straightening out.

Mind you, I’m not necessarily the one this expression is for and/or about, unless I am and I don’t see it yet. I’m still not all that sold on microaggressions, unless that microaggression is the extreme case, obviously; in which case, call me. But: through an anti-respectability lens, like the one I’ve hopefully made clear here – no pun – microaggressions highlight the problematics in adhering to prescriptions and proscriptions for how a given minority person should live their life if they’re to stand a chance at getting ahead.

Admittedly, I didn’t take kindly to all the training seshes (read: sessions) at first, and I’d be a boldface lie if I didn’t say that I feel more…responsible? and just more aware of the Wall O’ Buttons people would like not to be pushed when interacting with them. Can I just say, too, that I think we all do a good just in providing the kind(s) of nuanced and in depth instruction some students need and will not get in a classroom whether that reason is logistical or otherwise; and it is because of our near-surgical approach to instruction I think we are an asset to such a diverse body of student who or may not necessarily identify with their professors, classmates, or even the campus community at large; and as writers.

Even so, we’re not all-the-way there yet. And in our defense, it’s become increasingly (strangely?) normal (popular?) to lay claim to an identity and use it as a borderline Joker-card against policy. Which isn’t necessarily all wrong. I just sometimes wish that people would pick better battles, or that people wouldn’t try to render me a conspiracy theory for everything that goes on (or wrong) and didn’t benefit them, or something or another. “Everything isn’t because you’re black,” I want to tell some people. Or: “Everything isn’t because of aliens,” some others. But then folks probably say the same about me: “Everything isn’t about race, André.” And: I know. But then again, I am me.

What I mean is that, I don’t know, if my life were The Truman Show and you were all in on my life from birth to now, you’d know what my experiences have been when it comes to race, and how some people can just be so oblivious to it, or might even use it against some people, and how that’s pretty much what the fuck my life has been like. I always prime my black experience with a story of my father’s, from when he was a youngin: Dad and Uncle R__ are walking to the store when they see two white men buck-50 a black woman across the throat in broad day. Mind you this’s Boston circa the 60s, yet Dad’s made it, like, his boogeyman story to me when I was a kid.


Tobey's Thesis Thoughts 2016-01-25 23:01:00

The Beginning

Tobey's Tentative Thesis Schedule

The Start of My Thesis Journey...

My head has been kind of spinning since our first meeting last Thursday.

Before I met with everyone on Thursday, I felt like I at least had a broad idea of my topic. I was going to focus on the process of revision in writing. As a writing teacher, I know the struggle of teaching how to revise to middle schoolers. As a writer, I know the value and importance of engaging in the process of revision to strengthen my own work. I know some of the theorists who have explored this topic. I even quoted Nancy Sommers in my PLC meeting at work recently. I find value in doing more research on revision as I know there is not a lot out there. I even had some thoughts about where I might further explore this topic: recursive vs. linear, methods taught in schools, the college writer and revision...Ok, not overtly specific, but there were some ideas rolling around in that part of my brain now devoted to thesis work.

Then, we met. I listened in on the conferences and ideas that are happening and taking shape by my fellow peers, and new ideas came into my head. I realized that I didn't have to create my thesis one way, there were options. With those options came a refreshing look at what I  might want to do. Revision is  an important topic, but am I passionate about it? I have to admit that I went with it because I felt it would fit nicely into the structure I thought the thesis had to take. But now, I know differently.

Graduate school is personally challenging for each person who thrusts himself into it. For me it was not an easy decision to come back to school at almost forty years old. I had so much self doubt. Could I keep up? Could I handle the technology? Would I be able to manage my time well? Am I intelligent enough to do the work? The self doubt almost won, but I talked myself into it. I knew that I had to make some changes in my life. Now that I am starting this last process of the program, I can't tell you how much I have grown since I began.  The most surprising area where I felt change happened is in my emotional world. It is reflecting upon this area of personal growth from which I think my thesis should grow.

I tell my students often that writing can be cathartic, but it wasn't until I began to allow myself to write about my own difficult life moments that I realized how cathartic it actually can be. When I sit and look back at the writing pieces I wrote in my classes, I can't believe that I was so free. That I allowed myself to write about issues that I often avoid talking about, that I have pushed away. Why did having the freedom to write about anything I wanted produce these kinds of pieces? I'm very open about the fact that I have been seeing a therapist for the past twelve years. I went to her about a year after my mom died and I started to develop some heavy anxiety issues. However, even there we talk more about my avoidance to address things then actually confronting them.

When given the opportunity to write about anything I wanted, I chose hard-avoided-topics. In my Writing About Non-Fiction class, I created two pieces; the first about the death of my boyfriend when I was nineteen and the abusive relationship we had before he died, the second about a symbolic keepsake in my family and finding pictures of my mom after she died and being able to add those pictures to this keepsake. In my Writing for Children and Young Adult class, I create a thirty page draft of a ya story about a young girl taken over by anxiety-pulled from my own life. Finally, I created two poems directly about my mother's death during my time at The Summer Institute.

After creating the last two poems and sharing them, especially with my therapist, doors to healing opened up for me. I have been able to talk about some of the more difficult things surrounding my mom's death easier and my own anxiety has become lessened. I still have quite a ways to go, but writing about it has been the greatest therapy of my life.

Ok...so after all of this rambling, I come to my point, one of my lessons through my grad school journey is that writing holds powers of healing. Can I create some sort of thesis from this? I don't know.  There are studies out there about journaling and creative expression helping people of all sorts. I worry about what new spin I can take on this topic. Could I focus on my own journey?  I also know that much of the research will come from  psychology texts. I'm not a psych major. Will this be a difficulty for me? Many questions.

So an idea has taken shape, but what to do with this idea...


I Prolly Shouldn’t Of Wrote This Like This, But Peep Game Bcuz I Got Your Superhero, Son

For the 2nd Act of my thesis (because now I’m thinking I’ll ditch what I’d started) I will make my case against respectability politics (see part 1 of thesis) and for language democracy by locating my “War on Standardization” in the Push for Diversity Movement ongoing in comics and related media.

I contend for the full on implementations of distinct cultural makers as they pertain to the representations of historically marginalized groups of people beyond superficiality – that is, for example, not stopping/going beyond the epidermis.

Now, my subject is Miles Morales, the new teenage biracial Spider-Man. As an ethnic Other it is not snuff that the character’s legitimacy as “diverse” stops at his skin color and presumably ethnic name; Morales should bear more trappings of diversity inclusion than he currently has. I’m also aware that I am bordering on stereotyping and tokenism, which is typically frowned upon when it comes to POC. Albeit tricky, I’ll make the case for culture and upward v. downward constitution on the grounds of behavioral, gestural and linguistic performance. What I mean is that Morales is a good case against the status quo when it comes to minority representation and perhaps should maintain (or validate) those historically stigmatized qualities traditionally located in young brown-faced youth like him. Think hip hop generation, and even blaxploitation era: while Dolomite and other like figures might be or have been problematic there is truth and authenticity in their performances, but if handled correctly; that is, by the right people.

This isn’t to say that only POC or any sexual, gender, racial minority has the chops to adequately treat a nonstandard character; think about how late-Dwayne McDuffie killed it when he handled the Justice League. Rather: I make salient how exteriority problematizes nonmembers’ involvement in telling stories centered on a minority, and how it is understandable that the schematics of the minority stand in are altered in order to be better fit the (mythos) of the historically white character. Key texts include and are not ltd. to: Grant Morrison’s Supergods; Engaging Cultural Differences; and everything immediately featured, and not, here.

As for Cs: I’ve commissioned Matt’s girl and artist Gen Rod, who’s agreed to provide illustrative support: several panels sort of telling the story of how diversity in comics should not stop at skin color or sex change, and should go further, i.e., do more, in validating and legitimizing historically stigmatized facets of people. Keeping in mind laments against stereotypes, I’m coming from the locus of culture; e.g., hip hop. There’s also a historical component, such as the fact that African slaves came to US against their volition and were unable to communicate with each, and so had to create a pidgin dialect in order to communicate with one another. This pidgin dialect has been and still continues to be “de-creolized” thanks to integration, and blacks’ personal interests in participating in the Mainstream.

**Keep in mind that ideologies differ, even within the black community; and I want to say that I am part of a faction of pushers for diversity in the black community, and I just so happen to be subthrity/forty. Generational differences aside, though, I don’t think we can’t continue to shortchange (O)thers because of some long-held revolutionary tradition that complies with respectability politics, and ostracizes and stigmatizes those who don’t and might not want to get down with Whitey. Here’s to blackness.**


7. Wherein the Writer Learns to Bake

I have a cousin that I looked up to growing up. It was from he and his brother that I inherited a lot of hand-me-downs. Hockey equipment, clothes, toys, and on the best of days, video games. I played video games a lot growing up, in a lot of different settings, and the happiest of these was when I was sharing the experience with my cousins, who were until a certain age my best and closest friends. My cousin Mike, to whom I referred at the top there, is a few year older than me, so naturally to me more or less everything he ever did was cool. Fortunately for both of us it ended up that we had and have a lot of shared interests, one of which has always been video games. A year ago, maybe two, Mike told me about something he saw on the internet, and it gave him an idea. He had found some plans for building an old arcade-style game cabinet, but much more importantly, he had learned about a technology that would allow us to use this machine to play any and every game we had ever enjoyed from our earliest memories up through the turn of the millennium. Logistical concerns aside, I was on board.

 

The technologies Mike was talking about, as spoken about previously, are the Raspberry Pi (Model B) computer and the RetroPie software. The Raspberry Pi, pictured above, is not a computer as most people think of them. This little circuit board fits in the palm of the hand, and comes equipped with ports for power, audio, HDMI, (4) USB and an SD card reader. Much smaller than even the sleekest GameBoy I’ve ever had, the Pi can run all of my favorite childhood (and in fairness adolescent and possibly adult) games with nary a glitch and without ever needing a cool down break or a special touch or for somebody to blow on it. It must be said of the Raspberry Pi that this little computer has the versatility to be put to work on any number of projects, and can accomplish much nobler things for the world than letting me play Captain Skyhawk, but this is what I’m using the device for. To learn more about the Raspberry Pi and what it can do from the people behind it, go here. For our purposes, the USB ports are for connecting video game controllers, the HDMI port of course is used to connect the machine to a display (it’s amazing how good a 25 year old video game can look on a new HD TV), and the SD card slot holds the ever important brains of the operation: all the many 1000s of ROMs, and the operating system (OS) RetroPie.

 

The Raspberry Pi cannot operate without an SD card. The machine itself has processing power but no storage, so in order to use it, you must load an SD card with a compatible operating system of your choosing. In this case, RetroPie. RetroPie, the menu screen of which is seen above, is essentially a collection of emulators organized in a graphical interface. The emulators are presented on a side scrolling list, and when selected, each will offer the user the list of ROMs she has loaded onto the SD card that run through that particular emulator. In practice, it’s like having all of the game consoles you ever wanted available at the touch of a button, and every game you could ever think of ready to play at the touch of a second button. On a 32 gigabyte SD card, a user could load RetroPie alongside 800 Nintendo games, 700 Sega Genesis games, 900 Super Nintendo games, and hundreds of other games for other systems like Neo Geo, Atari, etc. and have access to all of them at any given time. As I believe I’m mentioned before, this is what 10 year old me would have called unlimited power. There are advertisements on from the back of Nintendo Power magazine with a kid on a dark cyber mountain wearing a Power Glove while lightning strikes everything (or like, something like this) and as a little kid that seemed like that coolest thing in the world, and I imagine that having this machine is what being the kid in that advertisement scenario would have felt like.

So these are the components that make up this game-changing machine, and because this is kind of a maker project, assembly is required. Full disclosure- it was my cousin Mike who did all of the first and hardest work here. He more or less handed me a working device and gave me access to a simplified process of putting the pieces together and making it all go. Even so, I’m going to walk through the process of making one of these things from scratch as well as I can. Before anything else, you need the hardware. Mike made I list and I put in the order. He has been researching in his free time, so he figured out which power supply (essentially a cell phone charger) would be best, what size SD card we should use (32 GB to start) and picked a case (a simple black box). He also found the site that made retro console controllers (either refitted originals or REALLY good replicas) with USB plugs. We went with Super Nintendo controllers for our first round of testing. In truth, we had no idea if this project was going to work, and with two sets of everything this had already cost us like $90 each (I get paid minimum wage, don’t be snooty) so we didn’t want to buy a bunch of accessories that we might not be able to use. Spoiler alert: it worked great and we bought more controllers.

While we waited for the parts and for sometime before, Mike diligently googled the whole situation he had gotten us into to find out just how the machine worked, how to use the OS, and how to put the two together. A while before, we met and went down our greatest hits lists to make sure we downloaded all of our favorite games to put onto our SD cards. What we quickly found out after that was that our all time favorites list (excluding PS1 and N64 games both because of file size and functionality issues with the emulators) would take up just a few megabytes our 32 gigabyte cards. Our natural next step was to simply find the entire catalogue of games for all of the systems we played on as kids and just download them all. The ROM for the original Legend of Zelda is something like 14 KB. We could fit so many thousands upon thousands of copies of The Legend of Zelda on our new magic gaming computers that it was beyond comical. We stared measuring later, larger games in terms of how many Zeldas could fit in their space. (A new PS4 game today? Like 200,000 Zeldas. Not joking.) The next task after downloading these entire libraries was to sift through them for the files we needed to move over to the Pi. Mike downloaded these huge batches of files that included things like foreign releases, fan-made games, read me files and things like that, so we had to find the actual game file for each ROM to put onto our SD cards. A great work of tedium, Mike compiled folders for each system and had them ready to go when we got the hardware. The next step, once we got our gear, was to get our SD cards loaded up with the OS and then filling them up with games. That took downloading a couple of programs to help us format the cards and get them ready for the Pi, again that Mike had to research online. The final step was to literally, physically put the pieces together, which entailed screwing our plastic cases into place around the tiny computers, sliding the SD cards into their tiny slots, plugging in all of the cords and seeing what would happen.

What happened was awesome. It worked exactly like it was supposed to. At first we only loaded some of the games, just to test it out, but there they all were. It was amazing. I forget which game we played the first night the Pis were working. I want to say it was a game called Monster in my Pocket, which was one of my childhood favorites but I had never owned it. As test cases go, this one was fantastic. The tension of a black screen broke as the game’s publisher’s information materialized and faded, and then with spooky 8 bit Nintendo music an image appears of a denim pocket on a black field, and something keeps trying to burst out of (I know, but we were children) when suddenly out from the top fly dozens of little monsters and the game’s logo. After that you’re a tiny vampire (or tiny Frankenstein[‘s monster I KNOW, GOD!] if you’re player two) running around suburban environments beating up other monsters to… some positive end. I know it’s ridiculous, and I can’t say why, but to this day I love that game. It was just so pleasing to play around with it again, like I’d done as a really little kid. This was a Nintendo game, so it came and went probably in the early nineties. By the time I was maybe ten Nintendo alone was already two major consoles beyond their original NES that I so enjoyed as a child. Lucky for me we weren’t rich, so I didn’t get the new consoles right away, if I got them at all. Still, it had been at least 15 years and probably a few more than that since I’d gotten my hand on this game and many like it. It was a happy reunion. And just like that, Mike and I were back to playing bizarre, 2D ridiculously hard games that we used to play together at birthday parties and after dark at family barbecues or when we’d get stuck at our grandmother’s house for too long and our parents took pity on us.

Now for like $70, after waiting 2 days for amazon I can make one of these things in about an hour. The files are saved and ready, I have the software- all I need is a place to plug in my computer. The fact that it has become so easy kind of takes away from the mystical quality the Pi once had. But in another way, learning more about this machine and how it works has brought me closer to a part of my childhood that was really important to me, and that otherwise I might not have been able to access in the same way maybe ever again. Right down to the feel of the controller in hand, this has been a genuine experience of revisiting a past that had for a time been off limits. It’s what I imagine it would be like if I could go back, now as an adult, to the house where I lived until i was 13 or so, and find it unchanged. Feel the texture of the plaster, see the coffee stain on that absurd salmon carpet, watch dust motes float through the sun beams cut up the the square panes of the window in my old bedroom. Smell the cold damp of the basement. That’s something that I’ll never get. Like unless the people who bought the house are real weird and have kept it exactly as we left it, that’s something I’ll never get. But I can hold a Nintendo controller and feel the plastic creak as I squeeze it, trying to urge Mega Man over a long jump, straining my own muscles and adrenaline to match, and I can remember how it was to sit in a group of my cousins and attack a game like that for an afternoon like our lives depended on it. So I feel like in a way, psychologically (I don’t know anything about psychology) by playing some of these old games, I can experience being back in that TV room with my cousins for a little while. At least I can remember how much fun we had. And in-game experiences call to mind real life circumstances, like who was there when we beat such and such a level, and things like that. If nothing else, the machine has helped me bond with my friend, and remember times when things were a little bit simpler for both of us, and I think that’s ok.


Blizzard!

Met with Dr. Zamora this week and I am seeing the finish line up ahead. What does it mean when you see the light at the end of the tunnel? It means you are still in the tunnel. Sigh.

I have now created four google docs which will be the four main menu items on my site. They are entitled: Ideas! Movement! Urban! Connected! I had other categories like reading-writing connection, but those ideas will be integrated into one of the other four categories. I have those umbrella categories sketched out, and will link them to specific lesson plans (mine and others’), resources, and sources. Worked mostly on Ideas! today with lesson plans on debate and Socratic seminar. Movement is next and then I will meet with Dr. Zamora to get ready to do the next two.

Still nervous about finishing. I may have to tutor after school and on Saturdays to get kids to pass the PARCC since so many of our students did not pass and will not graduate if we can’t remediate and re-assess… this is sort of the polar opposite of the ideas I am promoting for my project, but the powers-that-be have deemed it will be so.

I also have to get through the red tape to have my program evaluated and submit the application to graduate… hope that is not too problematic … wish this snow day was a Monday…