All posts by dianaknj

Diana (calm/hopeful/relieved)

In my other course this semester, we spent a minute talking about what people’s pronouns are.  And while I think this is a useful and caring thing to do, I also think some attention should be paid to what people’s adjectives are.  How they are feeling, what emotions they are currently experiencing. I think asking people to define not only their pronouns, but their adjectives, gives so much more insight into how a person is, more so than who a person is.

This week, my adjectives are calm/hopeful/relieved.

This week’s activities really helped me to calm down and focus on what I actually need to accomplish.  Something that bubbled up to the surface for me was that I am actually hopeful about this project, despite the anxieties and obstacles I’m facing.  One of those main obstacles is the anxiety of being “spread too thin,” and it’s one that I struggle with not only academically, but in my daily life as a working mom, and now a caregiver to my father, who’s experiencing some serious health issues.  (Sort of the inspiration for a big piece of my thesis project.). But having that hope, along with a concrete roadmap of where I should be going, and what I should be doing, is really helpful.  Like I’ve said before, I can handle anything, as long as I know what it is; it’s the unknown that I feel I can’t prepare for.  

And I’m also hopeful about my project because it’s something I actually care about.  (This week, I could really feel the emotion, not only in myself, because I wear me emotions on my sleeve, but also in the emotions of some of my classmates.) It’s a personal project for me, to help me deal with that very same unknown.   And that’s where I think a major direction of my Thesis Proposal is going to go: into the unknown. (And now that song from Frozen is stuck in my head!)  But honestly, there isn’t very much on my genre (speculative memoir) and I think that will actually serve nicely as the “gap” I’m identifying, and that hopefully, my research will fill.  I was very nervous that what I was doing was somehow not “novel” enough, but I believe, aside from the story, that forging a path into a new-ish genre fits that bill.  And, again, the reason for my choosing this project is to help work through past trauma, as well as to prepare for anticipated trauma, and have a solid plan for what will happen when what seems inevitable finally comes to pass. 

I’m also very relieved at the format of the Literature Review, and I think it will help me add credibility to the piece I’m working on.  Another piece to my research, for this thesis project, as well as for informing what I’m currently experiencing in my family, with regards to my father, is to learn more about some of the things that are ailing him, so that we can deal with it.  In this case, my research for this class will closely mirror some of the research I’ve already been doing, but in a much more formal way.  (Although, thankfully, somewhat less formal than the research I did for Dr. Nelson’s class!)  I really appreciate, though, how my journey as a writer is sort of a sidecar to my journey as a person, following the same curves and bumps, the same path, in parallel.  

I See My Path… To a Point

So far, I am leaning into my creative project from the Writer’s Retreat.  It’s a fictional piece, informed by some on my own personal experiences, and colored by some of my fears about the future.  I suppose, genre-wise, it’s a “speculative memoir,” so imagining what will happen in the future, rather than recalling what has happened in the past.  The premise of the work is that the protagonist returns to her childhood home after the death of her father, a hoarder who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.  She moves throughout the physical spaces of the home, interacting with objects along the way, which serve to trigger memories, and paint a picture of her life, the characters in the story, etc.  So far, I have three chapters done, and I have a decent roadmap of where I’d like the story to go in the future.  

I want it to follow a classical “Hero’s Journey” model, in a way.  I’d like my protagonist’s journey to begin with crossing a threshold into the unknown, and ultimately involving a “descent” of sorts (into the basement of the home, as it were) to emerge with a new understanding of who she is, who her father was, and what her past experiences give her, as far as strength, knowledge, and the power to love, heal, grieve, accept, and move on.  Here’s an outline (from my notes) of where I would like the chapters to go (along with some rough ideas that probably won’t make sense to any of you!):

Outline: prologue-ish, kitchen Part I

1. Bedroom

2. Bathroom

3. Parlor (not “living room”, called basement “cellar,” Zenith tv set, duck pillows, pillow forts)

4. Front room (grandpa, plants, piano, deer, Christmas, Dutchess, plastic tree needles melting to the radiator)

5. Toy room (used to be her bedroom, clown balloon lamp, clowns, Elaine, jack in the box)

Part II

6. Upstairs (berber carpet, indian burns, later, sleeping on the pullout couch, for lack of a bed, found the night-night tape)

7. Her Bedroom (purple under purple, closet Girl Scout book, care bear suitcase, tragic futon)

8. Her Sister’s Bedroom (feeling like a stranger, don’t belong, sister’s furniture, had a boy, not a girl)

9. The Un-Bathroom (things left unfinished, boxes of apt. stuff)

Part III

10. Laundry Room (mismatched socks, doubled as mom’s hair salon, Chinese bamboo calendar from 1989)

11. Basement/Cellar (farm stove, jetpack)

12. Workshop (reference the sawdust on the floor, from the toilet seat vignette, idea that some things can’t be fixed.)

Epilogue- back up through kitchen, and outside, leaving door open behind her. 

            So, I think the roadmap of my actual work is pretty solid, but what I also really want to focus on this semester is the technical “thesis-y” stuff, such as my Literature Review and Proposal, which I have not even started.   I think what I will wrestle with the most is not the pacing of my work (I want to get somewhere upstairs by semester’s end), but with how it will contribute to “new knowledge” in a meaningful way.  It’s really important to me to do justice to the topics, such as hoarding (or OCD) as it relates to Alzheimer’s, and the suffering it can cause not only to the person who is sick, but to their families.  I think there are deep phycological issues that I haven’t’ even scratched the surface of, and that, I think, is where the majority of my academic efforts will lie this semester.  Thankfully, I have all of you to help me along the way…