Tag Archives: vulnerable

Cry A Little Less, Laugh a Little More!

“One thing I hate is people screaming at me. If you want me to do something, just talk to me.” – Mario Lemieux 

It’s Time To Focus In On Where I Go From Here

It’s about the mid-way point of the semester, and boy, am I feeling it! Despite the doozy of a blog post from last week, I actually dropped the ball in just about every area of my life; I wasn’t eating or sleeping well, I wasn’t as kind as I possibly could have been to people, I wasn’t efficient enough with my work, and I had a few instances of academic turmoil that I’m still reeling from, but also recognize I cannot change. This isn’t normally how I handle things, and it’s hard to dissect there’s no threshold of responsibilities you need to reach to warrant feeling stressed and on some level, defeated. It’s hard to live up to the expectations you set for yourself, let alone those others have for you.

I did find some bright patches in all of this turmoil! This past week, I honored an age-old tradition my Dad and I have of playing the Tim McGraw song “My Next Thirty Years” on his birthday; the song is from an album that came out the year I was born, and it’s a whimsical number, especially to him considering his age. One of the nice things about your parents getting older is that they also start to get a little more sentimental, and hearing some of the stuff my Dad had to say about his life thus far definitely provided me with a sense of closure for some things, and a whole new list of questions for myself and my future, some of which are proving invaluable to this thesis development, and who I am as a person. Two of my friends also celebrated birthdays this week, and I saw the Devils yet again fall to the Capitals but triumph over Buffalo, who have surprisingly been off to a strong start this season, and then fall tonight to the Flames. And so, the world continues to turn.

But, as I was tasked at the end of thesis class last week to synthesize all my research and figure out what is the question I want to ask, I found that to be the most cumbersome task this thesis has asked of me thus far, and I’m not exaggerating when I say tears were shed over this specifically. I know why I’m interested in forensic linguistics. I know what gets under my skin about the field. I know who I’m researching and writing this thesis for. I know my initial line of inquiry was turned away for being more of a dissertation and less of a thesis, and that frustrated me to no end. (It also killed some of my confidence in myself.) Isn’t a dissertation like a longer version of a thesis, therefore validating my line of inquiry? (I’m not trying to degrade dissertations or pretend I know a ton about them, but this is what initially went through my mind.) And if I’m asking a dissertation-worthy question and keep hacking at it research-wise, doesn’t that mean I’m also on a trajectory to answer it, or at least explore it? Why can’t my thesis be a stepping stone on a larger path? What am I lacking? One thought ran circles through my mind; the TikTok audio that asks Am I…dumb?

 I spent a lot of the past week getting screamed at and screaming at myself, both literally and metaphorically, and amazingly enough, it accomplished nothing! Seeing everyone else getting the ball rolling or keeping it going on their projects had me feeling even worse, and I nearly slipped into the worst cycle possible; learned helplessness brought on by social comparison. But, who am I if not the kid of the guy who did everything on his own schedule, whether it was two years or two decades later than the norm, and accomplished his goals when no one else believed because it was on his own terms? Re-assessing the situation, I found that I’m not in as bad shape as previously believed; I’ve already created a substantial annotated bibliography, I’ve basically drafted the bulk of my literature review, proved a profound understanding of my topic to myself and others, and a stable understanding of adjacent topics and fields of study. 

 I read, and read, and re-read, and annotated my little heart out, and I still feel like I have perspective but no clear answers, or so it seems. It’s complicated, and I hope I can give you a concise answer for what my question is, and what this thesis will be, or at least something that gets you thinking, but for now, I recommend buckling up and getting ready for yet another journey through the thesis progress! 

I’ll Try to Think About the Last Time I Had A Good Time

Trying to figure out what I’m looking for with this thesis sure is reminiscent of being a kid and knowing that something major, in a negative way, is going on either at school or at home, and no one wants to clue you in because they think you can’t handle the news, and all the adults in your life look at you with pity. It makes “I’m Just a Kid” by Simple Plan the perfect accompanying soundtrack to this section. (Also, life is a nightmare at the moment.) As stated above, I spent the past week going through what I already have in terms of research and annotations, while adding in some fresh information and found myself once again being drawn to that dissertation question, even though I know it isn’t what I need. The outline I included in my last blog post was another good resource, but another intellectual cul-de-sac. 

I can say in earnest that yes, it feels like my thesis project is haunting me; I connect everything I’m doing in other classes to my concept, and I can’t shake the feeling that it may just be the most important thing in my life for a while. It isn’t so much an all-or-nothing mentality that surrounds it for me as it is a time-is-of-the-essence sort of complex. I’ve thought about doing a creative piece and this looming presence the project has taken on is making me think it’s time for a mystery novella, but I know that isn’t what I really want, and I refuse to take an easy out. I analyzed everything this week from the gaze of a forensic linguist, ranging from how my classmates spoke in class to my own text messages and writing. I could create a satirical handbook regarding how to apply these methods to blend humor and practicality, but again, something is missing there. E-lit, which I love, is also out for the time being because as I realized when I was running and saw a teardrop of frustration go flying, it doesn’t matter what I pick as a medium if I don’t even have a question. Also, why am I pushing myself so hard to add a creative angle? There’s nothing embarrassing about admitting that yes, I love research, I understand the process and terminology, and both the design and actual experimentation and collections are some of my key strengths as a writer and academic. It’s instinctual. I can already thread together the bare bones of a mixed-methods qualitative case study and protocol analysis based look at the field of forensic linguistics from its genesis to now, but it’s all weaving together around the question I can’t have, of why it is that linguistic evidence is not held to the same pedigree as physical evidence unless it is for the purpose of establishing guilt, especially in situations where there are several intersectional factors in play as well. Time is the one thing I don’t have too much of, and yet it’s the one thing I need to rework my research design around a new question. If I go this route, it’s more of a reduce-reuse-recycle scenario than it is a landfill dumping. 

Completing this thesis is more than a requirement or springboard into a career for me; I want this to be something meaningful beyond the people who see it in this program. I want it to be able to stand on its own, without me having to constantly explain and prop up what the premise and importance of it is. But with my confidence shot, I feel like a stickshift 1987 Chevy Chevette with a timing belt that’s slipping and a clutch that is stuck, just waiting to stall in the shoulder. 

Going back to Wednesday night, my Dad made a comment off-hand about what it took to become the person I know him as today on the way home. One of the biggest things my Dad has always emphasized to me that I respect and appreciate is the sheer amount of mistakes he’s made throughout his life, and how some, but not all, have defined him. Of course, I won’t share any of those with you, because I know he won’t like that! But when I hit a low and massive wall like I did this past week, hearing him be vulnerable about what it felt like to be behind or inadequate in regards to something more profound than a thesis is what struck a chord with me. There’s something bizarrely comforting about knowing that no matter how old you get, you never figure it all out, and it’s that mysterious space where you live the best parts of your life. And it inspired me to realize something: It’s my project, just like it was his life! So here’s what I’m planning:

  1. I’m not going to conscientiously think about what I want my question to be at all for the bulk of this week.
  2. I’m not going to think about what approach and medium I want this project to take on for the bulk of this week. 
    1. I’m not looking to get myself worked up again, and my gut tells me I’ll know soon enough, but right now just isn’t the time to know. 
  3. I’m not going to add to or subtract anything from the research and annotations I have already compiled.
  4. I am going to continue revising the formatting of my annotated bibliography. 
  5. I will work on the parts of my literature review that I can with everything I have already. 
    1. Dr. Nelson was kind enough to lend me a few resources about how to tackle a lit. review, and seeing it framed as “academic storytelling” is making this a more palatable, and dare I say it, fun task to work through.
  6. I will work on the applicable parts of my early project proposal. 
  7. I am going to find a better way to split my time to account for my student government responsibilities, the Rwandan genocide research paper, group presentation, and pop quizzes in Conflict Resolution, prep myself for the upcoming test, country report, position paper, and project in World Englishes, and round out my draft for the short position paper, conclude the work on my presentation and start working on what I know is going to be my final project for Lang. of Racial/Ethnic ID. (I can put the other assignments off for a bit.) 
    1. I’m not writing all of this out to prove how busy I am, but by seeing everything I need to take care of mapped out in front of me, and knowing I’ve seen the connections forensic linguistics holds to it before, it’s another way to figure out the focal question for my thesis without being overly conscientious, and succeeding in other areas of my life at the same time. Yet another tandem, if you will! 
  8. Health is going to be a priority, no matter what.
    1. Sleep is most definitely a target area. 

Regaining my confidence won’t happen overnight, but I’m the only one who can make the attempt, and this seems like one way to get there. 

Carve Your Name Into Those Shining Stars

I know I say it a lot, but I don’t think I can ever say thank you to my Dad enough. I literally owe my life and existence to the guy, and I know that the older I get, the more I want to be just like him but better. (I don’t see myself ever being a parent, but if that somehow happens, I’m going to try my best to be what he was to me!) The heading for this ending piece is not only what I hope to do with this project and my life in general, but it’s a lyric from “The Nights” by Avicii, a song I can never tire of. (Also, good on the Carolina Hurricanes for using it as a goal song!) I just plan to experience life for the next week, with no guilt over the unknown. And in regards to the quote above from one of the greatest to ever play the game, I’m sticking to that sentiment, and I’m not going to scream at myself to figure everything out on expert mode.

And just when it seems like all the pieces of a thesis and its author are about to break apart, they come together! (If you know what movie I love, live by, and reworked this line from, I like you! Have a cupcake!) See you next week!

Week One: This Ain’t A Rodeo

Content Warning for Sensitive Topics Discussed Later in the Blog Below. Please proceed with caution. 

Life really is only ten percent of what happens to you, and the other ninety percent is how you choose to react to it. Right now, setting up a schedule to accommodate all my responsibilities and other activities has me feeling more than slightly overwhelmed. Eighteen-hour days are just going to have to be the new normal! There’s also this drop-off in terms of personal growth that I saw within myself, where all the acceptance and appreciation for who I am was about to just vanish after a few scenarios where it was made painfully apparent that I’m just conceptually weird if that makes sense. Thankfully, I’ve got great tracks like “Cowboy in LA” by LANY to remind me that there’s nothing wrong with doing things at your own pace in your own way, fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and it helped to recalibrate my mindset. So, yeah, I’m still working on it, but I’m going to flip from tired, to wired, inspired, and most of all, enjoying what I do rather than being passive and a guy going through it.

So, moving into actual thesis things, I know that I already declared my idea in my previous blog: An interactive, pick-your-own-path/RPG-style interactive electronic lit piece that uses discourse theory to shed a light on conversations around care and equity, and how there are shifts and subtle, personal variations for a number of intersectional factors would encapsulate a lot of my research interests and personal values. I know that sentence is a lot to take in, but basically, I get to fold in theory, gaming pedagogy, and linguistics with a creative component. Like Hannah Montana, I’ll have the best of both worlds! But, this blog post is also meant to explicate some of the other ideas I explored before deciding this one is the one, so I’ll walk you through a few of the other ideas that I considered, full rationales and all, and maybe, just maybe, might get folded into or overtake this one! 

However, some of the content I am about to discuss here is of a sensitive, and to some, upsetting or triggering nature, so please proceed with caution, especially when reading about the second and third ideas. 

Idea #1: A Personal Interest and Possible Career Path

It’s no secret that there are three sports teams I cherish; the New Jersey Devils, the Metropolitan Riveters, and the New York Mets, and I thought that there were several different ways these organizations could play a role in my thesis. One possibility was to have my thesis be a living website where I post articles covering the outcomes of each team’s games, player stats, analytics, etc., and also create a guide to understand section, to help grow the games and bring more fans in! And of course, toss a podcast element in.

The other idea I had would be trickier, but it would be a dream realized to be able to interview the players, figures, reporters, and everyone else who brings these events to life! (If you ever stumble across this, I love you, R. Renee Hess!) I also thought about putting a possible theoretical framework around the over-reaching effect sports teams, specific players, and fanship can have on individuals, and for that, I probably would have explored phenomenology. I also thought about maybe mirroring the work of those I admire, such as the Black Girl Hockey Club, and looking into issues of equity and diversity in sports, because there is still a long way to go in that area.

I can confess that I am securely attached to the Mets because they’ve always been the underdog team, the gritty hard workers, and their slogan “Ya Gotta Believe” are words to live by. Just like how there are times in the program where I feel like social comparison makes me look inexperienced or less than my peers, I remember the generation of Miracle Mets from 1986; the guys who drafted low, who were traded and laughed out of their old clubs, the ones who nobody thought were going anywhere fast. I remember Mike Piazza’s feel-good home run after 9/11. I remember being that wide-eyed sixteen-year-old, mesmerized by seeing my team in the finals, and crying with them when the outcome wasn’t what I hoped for. 

I refuse to give up on the New Jersey Devils no matter what because, again, I grew up watching guys who innovated and changed the game, like Scott Stevens with his smooth skating, Scott Neidermayer who defied all the doubts people had about him being a defenseman at his size and age, and of course, by getting to see Martin Brodeur become the GOAT. I remember screaming when the call of “HENRIQUE! IT’S OVER!” confirmed we were going to the Stanley Cup Finals, and twelve-year-old me felt starstruck. In a broader sense, hockey has definitely helped me when I’ve had those moments of I don’t belong here in this program, because I remember that Patrick Roy, another notable goalie, wasn’t drafted until the third round. Chris Chelios was number forty in the draft. Both are Hall of Famers now. Heck, Ron Hainsey took over a decade to make the playoffs. So, if it isn’t happening now, it’ll happen soon.

The Riveters not only showed me that gender isn’t a barrier to pursuing your dreams and greatness, but that there are shades of humanity in the players and everyone behind them that are just like mine. Seeing Madison and Anya Packer speak candidly on their experiences as pro-athletes and members of the LGBTQ+ community and consistently push for inclusivity and equity is amazing, and seeing Saroya Tinker and R. Renee Hesse campaign and make it clear that diversity is a cornerstone and not a performative activity parallel to that is what keeps me engaged and hopeful. They have all also proven that you can be a professional and still have a personality and show kindness and genuine excitement and be just as successful. 

I know those paragraphs might be overkill or childish, and the ideas presented might not be thesis material, but looking at life like that is part of what makes me who I am. So, I guess either beat writer or sportswriter could come out of this.

Idea #2: An Autoethnographic Piece

So, this is where that content warning comes in really handy. It’s no secret to anyone who has met me that I’m pretty close to my family, but what people don’t realize is that being close with your family comes with a lot of benefits, but also a lot of pressure, some internal and some external. For context: my parents, my Dad who I’m closer to, in particular, is only getting older every year. And it is so hard to see it unfolding before your eyes. Every year, the alarm gets set for a little later, and the snooze button gets a little more use. There’s less jumping up and saying “Let’s go” when it’s time to do something, and more “Maybe another day.” The same stairs you would race them on suddenly become the steepest mountain and now they need the railing. There’s a new wrinkle near the eyes or on the forehead, and little more hair seems to disappear. And then there are the hushed conversations that aren’t meant for your ears that you overhear, about health, about worries, and everything in between. And through all of this, you feel yourself becoming splintered. There are just some things in life you have to face, prepared or not, and the fact that even the most loved and loving people being temporary is one of those things. 

On one hand, I’m 22 and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what life can be. I want to take my time growing up and going through things; I want to go out with friends, experience hockey and baseball games and concerts, find my career path, and take my time with the more personal stuff, like finding someone (if they exist). On the other hand, I’m terrified that if I don’t play life on expert mode and get to things as fast as I can, he might not be around to see it. I know it’s a fact of life that everyone has to die eventually, and George Harrison crooning, “All things must pass, pass away” helps me to deal with that. So, I thought that maybe my death anxiety could be resolved, or at least explored constructively through a thesis project. 

One way I thought about putting this idea into action was to frame it as a journal of sorts, where I could chronicle specific special moments and try to forecast all of the good stuff that is yet to come in a creative manner, full of emotion and with added resources, like the music I remember playing at the time, pictures, etc. (I’m also thinking it would be a good gift in this format!) Admittedly, this is a lot more vulnerable than I normally would want something I write for other’s viewing to be, but I’m all about trying new things and expanding my horizons. If anyone remembers from a year ago, I would probably do this in a manner similar to Queer Skins, and even fictionalize it.

There is, of course, the creative and fiction writing route I could take with this, where I envision a collection of short stories, each detailing a developmental stage in the parent and child’s life, running parallel to one another might be intriguing. For instance, the first chapter could be the parent’s first memory, and the next be the kid’s. Or, I could have one set of events, and have the chapters alternate viewpoints. Decisions, decisions…

No matter what though, if I choose this idea or any variation of it, I would definitely want to fold in plenty of the theories and facts from the course Human Development Across the Lifespan, which just lends itself to this concept.  

Idea #3: A Darker Creative Piece

OK, the trigger warning applied to idea two, and it most definitely applies here. I have no idea why, but as far back as my memory stretches I have always had reoccurring nightmares, and those have been far more memorable than any nice dreams I may have had. Like many others, I also struggle with certain dimensions of my emotional and mental health, and I’m comfortable with sharing that mood, socialization, and intrusive and racing thoughts have been the big dimensions. Oftentimes, there is an overlap between the two. And I know that a lot of people say, “But you always seem so, you know!” The truth is, yes, I am genuinely thriving most of the time thanks to preventative measures and other tools that help like counseling and journaling and having a strong support system. But, sometimes it takes that one comment or looks, sometimes not even directed at me, and I feel a lot of my progress slipping away. And then when night falls, I either can’t sleep, or my nightmares decide to pay me a visit. Neither option are great, but the latter is definitely worse; it often leads to sleep paralysis, waking up screaming, and a lot of trouble functioning the following morning. 

I know that I’m not alone in either half of this two-fold issue, so I thought tackling this from a creative angle might bring a new dimension of understanding or open-ended closure in a way. And what I mean by this is, I know that my issues are not going to vanish overnight just because I wrote about them; if that were the case, my journaling would have taken care of all these years ago. So, one way this could go would be to just focus on my nightmares and bring them to life in an anthology of short stories. (There’s definitely enough material.) Of course, I’ll have to negotiate authenticity and what is digestible, but I trust myself to navigate that task. I’d also look for peer-reviewed sources that might offer deeper insight into what might be the culprit behind these recurring, unpleasant dreams. And with all the free, open-source tech tools at my disposal, I could definitely put together a corresponding audiobook.

In terms of the latter, I could go the autoethnographic route, or at the very least, take some of those thoughts and feelings and craft a story around them. I know there’s a plethora of feel-good stories about the weird kid who goes on to grow into who they are, or at the very least, comes to terms with who they are and stops caring about what others think, but I’m more inclined to approach the darker side of things. It’s easy to talk about mental health in the sense of self-care, but oftentimes, there is little to no discussion of mental illness and the more debilitating aspects of it outside of a research or clinical orientation. When you live with intrusive and racing thoughts, or feel like someone else is in the driver’s seat of your mind and body and there are moments where everything can be sensory overload and get under your skin, it can be more complicated trying to get people to understand it’s more than just “an overreaction” or “nerves” or “an excuse”. Maybe a creative piece, perhaps presented in poetry form can rectify that? Otherwise, I would also love to take this idea down the research route, and using

(Also, please don’t read this and get overly worried or concerned, or think anything different about me! I genuinely am in a very good place, and if I do go down this road, I know I can handle it. What I go through and went through has shaped me, yes, but I can assure you that I am just as capable of making it through this class, working a job, or doing literally anything else you can think of.) I know everything you just read between idea number two and this was pretty heavy, so please take a break if you need to, and maybe put on “The Warrior” by Patty Smyth while you finish out this post.

Idea #4: A Research-Based Approach

My fourth idea for a thesis project was to take my work from Dr. Nelson’s class on the idea of algorithmic bias and linguistic profiling and bias of individuals and how it plays a role in the web search engines execute results for individuals differently and examine this phenomenon through a mixture of protocol analysis and discourse theory. It’s admittedly a lot drier, and I’m not feeling overly attached to it, or feel that it needs to be explicated further.

Idea #5: Another Similar Research Idea, but Not Congruent 

Basically, taking the same concept of algorithmic bias and linguistic bias and profiling of individuals that results in varied and biased web searches, but as they pertain to the specific topic of mental health. 

Idea #6: Another Fun Little Thing

If you’ve read this far down into the post, thank you! I promise this is the last idea I’ll share. (At least in this post!) I don’t know if this is the right class for it, but I really love the idea of forensic linguistics and examining the intent and transmission of language in a retrospective manner. In the judicial system, this practice usually applies to analyzing things like threats, ransom notes, etc., but I want to really look at the interpersonal and digital side of things. After all, there’s already so much writing on and feelings about whether tone and intent can be pinpointed and truly identified in intrapersonal communication, let alone in print, so why not offer digital correspondence the same scrutiny? I’d love to design an interactive e-lit piece where the user has to act as a “forensic linguist” or “language pathologist” or “linguistic detective” and piece together clues from different characters in the form of things like emails, DMs, and assorted journal notes to figure out what has happened. And on the side, little tidbits about linguistic forensics and the various techniques and applications can pop up. Once again, theory, gaming pedagogy, and creativity can be compounded together. 

I revealed a lot more than I normally would here, and while I’m extremely terrified of what outward, radiating effect, or far-off in the future effect this blog post could have on how I’m perceived, my chances of getting a job, or other things, I know that there are uncomfortable conversations and topics being brought up that need to be addressed, and I won’t apologize for that. I can’t control how folks will perceive this any more than I can control the weather. I know that for right now, I’m really considering one of my more creative ideas, like the one I originally proposed about a dialogue-driven RPG or having the mystery-driven forensic linguistics game, but I guess we shall see! My final thought after writing all of this and leaving it out on the field is that I should probably add another page to my website for all my planning, resources, paper components, etc. I mainly used this blog post as a rough idea dump-and-change.

I leave you with “Keep Pushin’” by REO Speedwagon, and I’ll see ya on the other side!

This Ain’t A Rodeo

Content Warning for Sensitive Topics Discussed Later in the Blog Below. Please proceed with caution. 

Life really is only ten percent of what happens to you, and the other ninety percent is how you choose to react to it. Right now, setting up a schedule to accommodate all my responsibilities and other activities has me feeling more than slightly overwhelmed. Eighteen-hour days are just going to have to be the new normal! There’s also this drop-off in terms of personal growth that I saw within myself, where all the acceptance and appreciation for who I am was about to just vanish after a few scenarios where it was made painfully apparent that I’m just conceptually weird if that makes sense. Thankfully, I’ve got great tracks like “Cowboy in LA” by LANY to remind me that there’s nothing wrong with doing things at your own pace in your own way, fitting in isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and it helped to recalibrate my mindset. So, yeah, I’m still working on it, but I’m going to flip from tired, to wired, inspired, and most of all, enjoying what I do rather than being passive and a guy going through it.

So, moving into actual thesis things, I know that I already declared my idea in my previous blog: An interactive, pick-your-own-path/RPG-style interactive electronic lit piece that uses discourse theory to shed a light on conversations around care and equity, and how there are shifts and subtle, personal variations for a number of intersectional factors would encapsulate a lot of my research interests and personal values. I know that sentence is a lot to take in, but basically, I get to fold in theory, gaming pedagogy, and linguistics with a creative component. Like Hannah Montana, I’ll have the best of both worlds! But, this blog post is also meant to explicate some of the other ideas I explored before deciding this one is the one, so I’ll walk you through a few of the other ideas that I considered, full rationales and all, and maybe, just maybe, might get folded into or overtake this one! 

However, some of the content I am about to discuss here is of a sensitive, and to some, upsetting or triggering nature, so please proceed with caution, especially when reading about the second and third ideas. 

Idea #1: A Personal Interest and Possible Career Path

It’s no secret that there are three sports teams I cherish; the New Jersey Devils, the Metropolitan Riveters, and the New York Mets, and I thought that there were several different ways these organizations could play a role in my thesis. One possibility was to have my thesis be a living website where I post articles covering the outcomes of each team’s games, player stats, analytics, etc., and also create a guide to understand section, to help grow the games and bring more fans in! And of course, toss a podcast element in.

The other idea I had would be trickier, but it would be a dream realized to be able to interview the players, figures, reporters, and everyone else who brings these events to life! (If you ever stumble across this, I love you, R. Renee Hess!) I also thought about putting a possible theoretical framework around the over-reaching effect sports teams, specific players, and fanship can have on individuals, and for that, I probably would have explored phenomenology. I also thought about maybe mirroring the work of those I admire, such as the Black Girl Hockey Club, and looking into issues of equity and diversity in sports, because there is still a long way to go in that area.

I can confess that I am securely attached to the Mets because they’ve always been the underdog team, the gritty hard workers, and their slogan “Ya Gotta Believe” are words to live by. Just like how there are times in the program where I feel like social comparison makes me look inexperienced or less than my peers, I remember the generation of Miracle Mets from 1986; the guys who drafted low, who were traded and laughed out of their old clubs, the ones who nobody thought were going anywhere fast. I remember Mike Piazza’s feel-good home run after 9/11. I remember being that wide-eyed sixteen-year-old, mesmerized by seeing my team in the finals, and crying with them when the outcome wasn’t what I hoped for. 

I refuse to give up on the New Jersey Devils no matter what because, again, I grew up watching guys who innovated and changed the game, like Scott Stevens with his smooth skating, Scott Neidermayer who defied all the doubts people had about him being a defenseman at his size and age, and of course, by getting to see Martin Brodeur become the GOAT. I remember screaming when the call of “HENRIQUE! IT’S OVER!” confirmed we were going to the Stanley Cup Finals, and twelve-year-old me felt starstruck. In a broader sense, hockey has definitely helped me when I’ve had those moments of I don’t belong here in this program, because I remember that Patrick Roy, another notable goalie, wasn’t drafted until the third round. Chris Chelios was number forty in the draft. Both are Hall of Famers now. Heck, Ron Hainsey took over a decade to make the playoffs. So, if it isn’t happening now, it’ll happen soon.

The Riveters not only showed me that gender isn’t a barrier to pursuing your dreams and greatness, but that there are shades of humanity in the players and everyone behind them that are just like mine. Seeing Madison and Anya Packer speak candidly on their experiences as pro-athletes and members of the LGBTQ+ community and consistently push for inclusivity and equity is amazing, and seeing Saroya Tinker and R. Renee Hesse campaign and make it clear that diversity is a cornerstone and not a performative activity parallel to that is what keeps me engaged and hopeful. They have all also proven that you can be a professional and still have a personality and show kindness and genuine excitement and be just as successful. 

I know those paragraphs might be overkill or childish, and the ideas presented might not be thesis material, but looking at life like that is part of what makes me who I am. So, I guess either beat writer or sportswriter could come out of this.

Idea #2: An Autoethnographic Piece

So, this is where that content warning comes in really handy. It’s no secret to anyone who has met me that I’m pretty close to my family, but what people don’t realize is that being close with your family comes with a lot of benefits, but also a lot of pressure, some internal and some external. For context: my parents, my Dad who I’m closer to, in particular, is only getting older every year. And it is so hard to see it unfolding before your eyes. Every year, the alarm gets set for a little later, and the snooze button gets a little more use. There’s less jumping up and saying “Let’s go” when it’s time to do something, and more “Maybe another day.” The same stairs you would race them on suddenly become the steepest mountain and now they need the railing. There’s a new wrinkle near the eyes or on the forehead, and little more hair seems to disappear. And then there are the hushed conversations that aren’t meant for your ears that you overhear, about health, about worries, and everything in between. And through all of this, you feel yourself becoming splintered. There are just some things in life you have to face, prepared or not, and the fact that even the most loved and loving people being temporary is one of those things. 

On one hand, I’m 22 and I’ve barely scratched the surface of what life can be. I want to take my time growing up and going through things; I want to go out with friends, experience hockey and baseball games and concerts, find my career path, and take my time with the more personal stuff, like finding someone (if they exist). On the other hand, I’m terrified that if I don’t play life on expert mode and get to things as fast as I can, he might not be around to see it. I know it’s a fact of life that everyone has to die eventually, and George Harrison crooning, “All things must pass, pass away” helps me to deal with that. So, I thought that maybe my death anxiety could be resolved, or at least explored constructively through a thesis project. 

One way I thought about putting this idea into action was to frame it as a journal of sorts, where I could chronicle specific special moments and try to forecast all of the good stuff that is yet to come in a creative manner, full of emotion and with added resources, like the music I remember playing at the time, pictures, etc. (I’m also thinking it would be a good gift in this format!) Admittedly, this is a lot more vulnerable than I normally would want something I write for other’s viewing to be, but I’m all about trying new things and expanding my horizons. If anyone remembers from a year ago, I would probably do this in a manner similar to Queer Skins, and even fictionalize it.

There is, of course, the creative and fiction writing route I could take with this, where I envision a collection of short stories, each detailing a developmental stage in the parent and child’s life, running parallel to one another might be intriguing. For instance, the first chapter could be the parent’s first memory, and the next be the kid’s. Or, I could have one set of events, and have the chapters alternate viewpoints. Decisions, decisions…

No matter what though, if I choose this idea or any variation of it, I would definitely want to fold in plenty of the theories and facts from the course Human Development Across the Lifespan, which just lends itself to this concept.  

Idea #3: A Darker Creative Piece

OK, the trigger warning applied to idea two, and it most definitely applies here. I have no idea why, but as far back as my memory stretches I have always had reoccurring nightmares, and those have been far more memorable than any nice dreams I may have had. Like many others, I also struggle with certain dimensions of my emotional and mental health, and I’m comfortable with sharing that mood, socialization, and intrusive and racing thoughts have been the big dimensions. Oftentimes, there is an overlap between the two. And I know that a lot of people say, “But you always seem so, you know!” The truth is, yes, I am genuinely thriving most of the time thanks to preventative measures and other tools that help like counseling and journaling and having a strong support system. But, sometimes it takes that one comment or looks, sometimes not even directed at me, and I feel a lot of my progress slipping away. And then when night falls, I either can’t sleep, or my nightmares decide to pay me a visit. Neither option are great, but the latter is definitely worse; it often leads to sleep paralysis, waking up screaming, and a lot of trouble functioning the following morning. 

I know that I’m not alone in either half of this two-fold issue, so I thought tackling this from a creative angle might bring a new dimension of understanding or open-ended closure in a way. And what I mean by this is, I know that my issues are not going to vanish overnight just because I wrote about them; if that were the case, my journaling would have taken care of all these years ago. So, one way this could go would be to just focus on my nightmares and bring them to life in an anthology of short stories. (There’s definitely enough material.) Of course, I’ll have to negotiate authenticity and what is digestible, but I trust myself to navigate that task. I’d also look for peer-reviewed sources that might offer deeper insight into what might be the culprit behind these recurring, unpleasant dreams. And with all the free, open-source tech tools at my disposal, I could definitely put together a corresponding audiobook.

In terms of the latter, I could go the autoethnographic route, or at the very least, take some of those thoughts and feelings and craft a story around them. I know there’s a plethora of feel-good stories about the weird kid who goes on to grow into who they are, or at the very least, comes to terms with who they are and stops caring about what others think, but I’m more inclined to approach the darker side of things. It’s easy to talk about mental health in the sense of self-care, but oftentimes, there is little to no discussion of mental illness and the more debilitating aspects of it outside of a research or clinical orientation. When you live with intrusive and racing thoughts, or feel like someone else is in the driver’s seat of your mind and body and there are moments where everything can be sensory overload and get under your skin, it can be more complicated trying to get people to understand it’s more than just “an overreaction” or “nerves” or “an excuse”. Maybe a creative piece, perhaps presented in poetry form can rectify that? Otherwise, I would also love to take this idea down the research route, and using

(Also, please don’t read this and get overly worried or concerned, or think anything different about me! I genuinely am in a very good place, and if I do go down this road, I know I can handle it. What I go through and went through has shaped me, yes, but I can assure you that I am just as capable of making it through this class, working a job, or doing literally anything else you can think of.) I know everything you just read between idea number two and this was pretty heavy, so please take a break if you need to, and maybe put on “The Warrior” by Patty Smyth while you finish out this post.

Idea #4: A Research-Based Approach

My fourth idea for a thesis project was to take my work from Dr. Nelson’s class on the idea of algorithmic bias and linguistic profiling and bias of individuals and how it plays a role in the web search engines execute results for individuals differently and examine this phenomenon through a mixture of protocol analysis and discourse theory. It’s admittedly a lot drier, and I’m not feeling overly attached to it, or feel that it needs to be explicated further.

Idea #5: Another Similar Research Idea, but Not Congruent 

Basically, taking the same concept of algorithmic bias and linguistic bias and profiling of individuals that results in varied and biased web searches, but as they pertain to the specific topic of mental health. 

Idea #6: Another Fun Little Thing

If you’ve read this far down into the post, thank you! I promise this is the last idea I’ll share. (At least in this post!) I don’t know if this is the right class for it, but I really love the idea of forensic linguistics and examining the intent and transmission of language in a retrospective manner. In the judicial system, this practice usually applies to analyzing things like threats, ransom notes, etc., but I want to really look at the interpersonal and digital side of things. After all, there’s already so much writing on and feelings about whether tone and intent can be pinpointed and truly identified in intrapersonal communication, let alone in print, so why not offer digital correspondence the same scrutiny? I’d love to design an interactive e-lit piece where the user has to act as a “forensic linguist” or “language pathologist” or “linguistic detective” and piece together clues from different characters in the form of things like emails, DMs, and assorted journal notes to figure out what has happened. And on the side, little tidbits about linguistic forensics and the various techniques and applications can pop up. Once again, theory, gaming pedagogy, and creativity can be compounded together. 

I revealed a lot more than I normally would here, and while I’m extremely terrified of what outward, radiating effect, or far-off in the future effect this blog post could have on how I’m perceived, my chances of getting a job, or other things, I know that there are uncomfortable conversations and topics being brought up that need to be addressed, and I won’t apologize for that. I can’t control how folks will perceive this any more than I can control the weather. I know that for right now, I’m really considering one of my more creative ideas, like the one I originally proposed about a dialogue-driven RPG or having the mystery-driven forensic linguistics game, but I guess we shall see! My final thought after writing all of this and leaving it out on the field is that I should probably add another page to my website for all my planning, resources, paper components, etc. I mainly used this blog post as a rough idea dump-and-change.

I leave you with “Keep Pushin’” by REO Speedwagon, and I’ll see ya on the other side!