Tag Archives: #Ideas

Am I Throwing You Off?

Nope. Didn’t Think So. 

The feeling that my thesis is giving really drives me crazy. (I’ll cut myself off here before I end up typing a thesis-themed parody of “Promiscuous” instead of a progress report blog, and because I would hate for my musical selections to overshadow every other aspect of my project and blog, no matter how rad they are.)

With the age and amenities of my vehicle, it would be cute if someone special magically entered my life and made a Spotify playlist, but (no pun intended) it would be downright hot if they burnt me a CD with that playlist. At least for now, I finally get to take our home and library’s collections to task, and this week it’s primarily been Loose by Nelly Furtado keeping me company and yielding the best introduction to any blog I’ve written thus far. Everything in life at the moment has just been par for the course at the moment, barring the extraordinary pain the Devils are piling on with that loss to the Maple Leafs. (If you’re really curious, look up the score yourself.) How they ended up at the bottom of the Metro division, despite the Flyers tanking 10+ games is a phenomenon I can’t wrap my head around. The Winter Olympics are what has been giving me life; the Brianna Decker situation, however, was terrifying! I’m thankful that she is going to recuperate, even if it means missing her on the ice. 

Since my last post and class, my goals have slightly shifted and changed, since I need to get a move on both writing this thesis, as well as designing and completing my project for Research Days. I decided to go the presentation route, but it never hurts to put together something publishable and have an accompanying poster or graphic! My goals for my thesis are clear, but I also have some for my Research Days presentation; I’m hoping it’ll provoke plenty of interdisciplinary collaboration and thought, between our program and those in communications, psychology, and criminal justice. It’s imperative to make several key changes to the justice system as it currently stands and to get that change implemented, it’s vital to understand the effect and influence of how others view what the justice system is and is not, and every aspect of it, from the police force to the prosecutor’s office to even the methods of investigation and sentencing. After all, it’s dangerous to just assume that a single perspective is correct, and it’s also imperative to avoid assuming the views of others since that can also stall a dialogue. I’ll explain further about this project below since it is deserving of a section of its own. 

With that out of the way, let’s get into some sturdy progress on both fronts! I’ll walk you through my thesis work thus far, and then a more sophisticated discussion of my Research Days project. 

When She Asks For Something, Boy She Means It

Maneater” is the perfect update to the Hall and Oates’ classic, and also energetic enough to pull everyone through the heart of this post. For the time being, I’ve given my thesis a working title, abstract, keywords, and introduction. The aforementioned aspects all met the parameters I set in my outline from my last blog pretty well. I took some of the critical advice Dr. Zamora mentioned about this section in my one-on-one last class and added in a statement of positionality, as well as a slight re-arrangement of how to introduce the term, the field, and the implications in a more succinct manner. 

Now that I have a composite written for my abstract and introduction, I’m going to look away from it for a week or so, and instead spend this upcoming week, and a bit of the next writing up my literature review and methodology section. This is where things are going to get a bit dicey, as I have to determine what research and resources I want to put into my literature review and what I want to save for analysis, so I’ll have to review my notes and find my path from there. 

The methodology section also has to be carefully monitored, as I don’t want it to be so extensive the approach is not clear or seems to be weak. As previously mentioned and also discussed in my one-on-one last week, a case study would serve this work well; it’s just figuring out exactly which configuration of a case study is most suitable, and what research will bolster this point. Discourse, protocol, and content analysis will all also be utilized as planned, and after careful consideration and reading further on linguistics in general, I’m moving away from corpus linguistics as an investigative method, but instead looking at it as a possible result or resolution. Another takeaway from my one-on-one that is going to affect my methodology section is the integration of critical terms and components from my conflict resolution course. No, I’m not trying to overload this paper with stuffy, academic terms, or trying to pull it in divergent directions, but I do think that if this is going to be a reflection of my academic self, there has to be a shred of the greatest class I ever took that changed my life in more ways than I ever imagined possible. I plan to spend a bit of next class pondering this a bit, and revisiting the text that I’ll most likely be using, Hostage at the Table by George Kohlreiser. It’s a lock that the ideas of schismogenesis, models of power, restorative justice, and forgiveness and reconciliation as separate concepts will appear at some point. 

Finally, I’ll be narrowing down what landmark Supreme Court cases regarding faulty procedures, due process, the first amendment, or sentencing I’d like to include. Riggins vs. Nevada is definitely a lock, and I’m still deliberating on others. (Jackson vs. Indiana is another of my favorites, but I’m not sure if there is a place for it in this project.) Hopefully, I’ll have a definitive answer by next week! 

You Either Got It, Or You Don’t

A discussion of my budding research days project deserves a song like, “Say It Right,” especially when looking at the severity of what I’ve decided to pursue. As previously mentioned, I’ll be looking at both the CSI effect and overall effect that police procedural television programming has had on the general public’s understanding of what the role of police in society is, what they are and are not qualified to do, and what resources are actually available and realistic investigative timelines, as opposed to those seen on television. Much of the research on the CSI effect is growing dated, and many social psychology studies on the effect of watching police procedurals focus less on perceptions of the group, and instead on the effect on someone’s empathy responses. 

For this, I most definitely will need to compile both archival and original data, and with the original data, it’ll be time for me to revisit statistics! So, here’s an outline of how I’m thinking about tackling this:

  1. Complete Preliminary Research  
    1. Look into different scientific, psychological, and criminology themed journals 
      1. Not only for past research on this topic, but also to discern realistic parameters of police + forensic capabilities
    2. Consider the integration of different concepts + theories from social psychology as necessary 
    3. Mention the implications of this phenomenon
    4. Clearly state what this project aims to measure and capture 
  2. Design Survey 
    1. Ensure the questions are bias-free and easily quantifiable
    2. Determine whether a convenience sample or a stratified sample is the more feasible or appropriate option  
      1. Determine whether the stratified sample will be limited to Kean-affiliated individuals or to a larger audience; if Kean limited, which student population? (Ex. graduate students only?)
    3. Utilize a linear ranking scale and dichotomous questions to allow for seamless statistical analysis
  3. Send Survey Out 
  4. Conduct Statistical Analysis (Order of steps will be revised)
    1. For this process, SPSS will be utilized 
      1. Determine the mean, median, and range of responses.
      2. Determine the correlational coefficient.
      3. Based on the claim, conduct a hypothesis test.
        1. Based on the result, either reject or accept the null hypothesis.
      4. Determine the standard deviation of responses.
      5. Determine the associated error via confidence interval testing 
      6. Document all statistical analysis, final conclusion, and feelings 
  5. Full Write-Up and Poster Completion

Sure. it’s a lot, but it can, and it will be done! I have little to no fear regarding the mathematical analysis involved, thanks to having an amazing statistics class I saved my notes from! (That was another one of those life-changing classes for me, and the professor I had is someone I will always look up to! I hope to model my classroom mannerism after her.)

I Only Stop At Exits, Wondering If I’ll Stay Young and Restless

This is the part of the blog where I usually mention what my plans for next week are, and it’s only fitting that looking at all of the above has me nodding along with “All Good Things Come To An End.” 

With so much going on, I’ll have to figure out how exactly to rotate between the two tasks at hand, as well as prepare for my thesis presentation. It isn’t for a few more weeks, but March will probably creep up on me the same way February did. For now, I’ll have to dedicate two hours a day to my thesis, and two to my research days project for equilibrium. One hour dedicated to revisiting research and annotations, and the other hour dedicated to writing and making meaning out of it on the thesis side, and one hour dedicated to compiling research and the other to survey design on the Research Days side. As far as my presentations go, I know that for Research Days, I’ll be bolstered by my poster and photos of all the graphs of my statistical analysis and explanations of the findings underneath. But for the thesis, it’s trickier. No matter what way I turn, that same inside-outsider feeling is there, along with this weird budding internal indignation. 

At least it’s starting to get drowned out by the spring tide of determination I’ve been lucky to feel this past week. No matter how old I am, a diagonally cut, slightly burnt grilled cheese with bell pepper made by Dad while he reminds me that it takes time to strengthen your mind, just like your muscles always makes me laugh, and then gets me back on track. I don’t know when, but I know it’ll be fine. 

The Dogs Were Whistling A New Tune

Oh, and because I want to be open about things; I went to an open house for Montclair this past weekend and by the end of this week, I’ll be sending in an application for their post-baccalaureate certification in paralegal studies, which will probably take a year or less to complete. See you later tonight! 

  

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Slowly Learning Life is OK

  Every street has a house with the last flickering orange porch light on at night and this cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood is no exception. The stairs that lead up to the backdoor are nearly immaculate, except for the scuff marks from fresh bike tires and skate wheels that were constantly rolled up and down, and the tell-tale sign of past teenage rebellion. Flecks of spray paint still glow in the dim lighting, and when the door slams and the light briefly flickers, it looks just like the embers of all the cigarettes stomped out on the base of the steps. All the cars up and down the street have changed for the most part, but the image of a family-friendly sedan with a dent on the fender from a wrist shot that went a little too wide is still imaginable. Slanted blinds give a glimpse of plants and scattered memories in the form of photos and books all over the coffee table. An almost perfect parallel of growth between nature and the human inhabitants. The sounds of laughter and elated cheering and chants still ring through the halls. 

But upstairs, there is another light that never goes out; the desk lamp of an emerging adult, who spends more time in their head than the world around them most days. So many thoughts swirl and braid together, or float away before they can ever fully form, and sometimes never return. And within that space, there are the pillars of their values and character on display for anyone to see; perseverance, humility, and above all else, a yearning to live a fulfilling life. The remnants of childhood interests and passion still shine with posters on the wall, figurines, and little scribbles on the insides of notebooks. The most common being “You are only as good as your values.” But what exactly are those values? Are those values a steady foundation or a roadblock? 

The deeper I wade into graduate studies, forensic linguistics, and simultaneously, my own life, the more it calls into question all my secure bases, especially as far as this thesis is concerned. The past couple of weeks have been nothing but mounting, and now insurmountable negativity and frustration, some internal and some absorbed from others. It’s coming from all angles and no matter what I do, nothing seems to be getting better. I can’t even put everything into words.

My project, if there even is one, just feels so obtuse and unfocused, and it sucks, for lack of a better phrase. (Actually, fucking sucks would be more accurate. Apologies for the one swear.) It feels like there’s a minimum direction and no clear vision of what to do. Every week is the same routine; research and lit review. Research and lit review and maybe some more pathetic attempts at research design. All of it is fueled by survivalist instincts, of being able to kid me into thinking I’m inching closer towards the things I want to accomplish when I’m running on a treadmill, not a track. I hate this feeling of lingering dread, and the anticipation of failure, even though I know that fear is unfounded because at least I’m trying. Part of it stems from those values that I think define a large part of who I am; what is the point of caring so much, or trying so hard when the exact opposite would probably still get me the same results with less internal pressure? Everything I like or care about feels kind of stupid right now. Why bother putting my playlists into blog posts anymore? Who cares other than me what’s going on in my life or what I care about? Is it all that Seneca I read during my adolescent years that led me to reify the belief a facade of happiness is my own form of stoicism I must maintain, and that’s why I won’t give it up? And why does recognizing frustration always have to feel so much more like a blame game than humility and self-care in action? There’s way too much happening all at once, and it’s happening to me, because of and in spite of myself. And the worst part is, it feels like this turmoil is supposed to be normal. (I know it’s not. But all of the above is by and large why I didn’t post last week.) 

To focus specifically on my thesis, I know that there’s only one accurate way to define what it feels like in this very moment; this thesis is comparable to a never-ending three-on-five penalty kill, with the opposing five being the Russian Five line. (I picked this line in particular not only for their cultural impact and significance in how hockey is now played but also because Igor Larionov is nicknamed “The Professor.” Here’s to looking at you, Dr. Zamora!) I have no illusions about myself or my blogs, which probably aren’t the must-reads I wish they were, so I might as well, continue the breakdown of my breakdown over this thesis so far with hockey rhetoric! (Maybe it’ll get me somewhere, or at least make hockey make more sense, or seem interesting to anyone who reads it!)

Play-by-Play Going Into The Second Period

I picked a topic, so that’s like winning a face-off. It’s a small victory, but it kicks everything else in the three periods into gear. My main tread thus far has been my nearly-complete literature review; I made a tizzy of an outline of the areas I’d target and different sources to do so, and I stuck to it! We can count that as an even-strength goal. I figured out what methods of analysis I would need for either a research paper or a creative project. This deserves the distinction of a power-play goal. I couldn’t figure out what question I wanted to ask of all my sources and research methodology; we’ll call that a penalty for something like charging or roughing since I was not nice to myself that week. (Good thing my favorite little old man was there to save the day! I guess Dad’s kind of like a coach in this scenario.) After I figured that question out, the first penalty kill of this process came to a close, and it was back to even strength for a bit! Next came the tricky part of figuring out how to actually conduct an original qualitative research experiment; the challenge and fear it brings about while working in tandem with a different research angle, one of media studies and analysis for research days is a lot like an odd-man rush. Luckily, the netminder was on par as far as the second idea went, so the puck was covered, and with a few dings off the pipes but no goals-against, the first period of play drew to an end. 

As the second period started, tensions began to mount, and it was clear in the sloppy play. In the quest to get other assignments and responsibilities cleared away, the puck, or my focus, was bobbled. My defense, which was the intricate mix of Notion, Google Calendar, and timers galore, wasn’t enough to sustain my mechanical approach to school, leaving it to take a big hit along the boards. And then it happened; the first goal-against. And a short-handed one, to boot! The replay didn’t show the whole picture, but it also didn’t hide the things I’d rather shy away from admitting to; I started crumbling under the pressure, and that gave way to more than a little apathy. That question of why care and really try when others doing the opposite always get ahead anyway just echoed, like an annoying goal horn, and no matter how much I tried to prove my own resilience to myself, it was futile. I could get on board with everything but my thesis, which constituted a really long time-out. But, the game must either go on, or be forfeited, so it was time for another line change. 

Analyzing structures of power, macro and micro depictions of bonding, examining the various identities and mitigation strategies of conflict, linguistic injustice, and bias on a global scale, the issues of race, politics, and individual identities that bleed into a collective identity, sometimes prescriptive and oftentimes independently constructed and contested all come naturally to me to a degree. So does drawing the connections and similarities between the concepts. It keeps my plus-minus stat (or goal differential, if you prefer), relatively neutral. Eh, I’ll be nice and say I’m at least +12 for the semester not counting this turmoil. 

It’s fascinating to surmise this is the content I’m excelling with, but the thesis I chose and I feel an attachment, or bond to, that I would count as a reflection of my academic identity is just a waking nightmare every time I see a related file on my computer. And yes, it still haunts me in everything I do, and through many of my thoughts, and as my work in other classes shows, I know how to apply forensic linguistics to various forms of text. So, it’s not all for naught! I can consider my applicational prowess of forensic linguistics my one-timer. 

Some of the frustration stems from feeling like an outlier, knowing that this is one hell of a research design; it’s focalized around analyzing published articles and techniques and systems already in motion, so prior experience isn’t something I can really rely on. All my research so far has involved some quantitative element, or at least original data collection at the very least. There’s also the aggravation of wondering if I’m even doing anything right. I consulted this article, which I know is science-based, but what is protocol analysis if not meta-analysis? I checked out and skimmed several different books from both the Kean and local library to figure out how to proceed from here. I really tried to hold it together and pick at it and stay positive, but it feels like I shot for the moon, and instead of landing amongst the stars, I’m floating in cold space depth. Alternatively, I’m seven and gazing through a telescope again, and my thesis is the star that’s a million and one lightyears away.

And yet, here we remain, with about a week and a half to my thesis presentation. I can be honest and admit I picked the week of Thanksgiving to present on purpose because I had my fingers crossed fewer folks would be coming to class. (It’s also because my family doesn’t celebrate and presenting that day wouldn’t be messing up anything out of the ordinary for me.)  

So, I guess that between the aggravation and unclear path forward, coupled with a looming presentation, this is why I’m on a three-on-five penalty kill. And it doesn’t look like that door is opening up anytime soon. 

I Have Scaled These City Walls, I Was Cold As A Stone

One of the cruelest ironies of life this past week was the fact that every time I drove home from school this week, I managed to catch, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” by U2 on the radio. Four different days, and three different stations. By Thursday, something in me just snapped. I mean, what the hell is this cosmic message supposed to be? A call to action? A sign everything will be OK? Another reminder of the time crunch I’m in? Sympathy from Bono himself? Two emotions Venn diagramed; anger and determination. Forensic linguistics lends itself quite well to detective work, which is the reason I found myself dabbling on the other side of the thesis world, in the creative writing universe. I’ll share it out in another blog post later this week, so it’ll also ease the embarrassment I feel about not posting at all last week, 

I’m Odds and Ends, But I’ll Be Stumbling Away

I feel like I just wrote a lot but had nothing meaningful to say. I feel slightly better, don’t get me wrong! I was able to address the story so far, somewhat from an outside perspective, and I put into perspective what is at stake in terms of my emotions and identity. Something has to come out of all this, right? 

Like a-ha, I’m slowly learning that life is OK. It’s another cruel irony of the radio on the way home, but as I parked across from the backdoor on Thursday, where the family-friendly sedan with a dent made by yours truly used to reside, “Take On Me,” in all its meme glory and annoying pop-ishness seemed like a sign of good times ahead. 

Catch you later this week!

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For, Slowly Learning Life is OK

  Every street has a house with the last flickering orange porch light on at night and this cookie-cutter suburban neighborhood is no exception. The stairs that lead up to the backdoor are nearly immaculate, except for the scuff marks from fresh bike tires and skate wheels that were constantly rolled up and down, and the tell-tale sign of past teenage rebellion. Flecks of spray paint still glow in the dim lighting, and when the door slams and the light briefly flickers, it looks just like the embers of all the cigarettes stomped out on the base of the steps. All the cars up and down the street have changed for the most part, but the image of a family-friendly sedan with a dent on the fender from a wrist shot that went a little too wide is still imaginable. Slanted blinds give a glimpse of plants and scattered memories in the form of photos and books all over the coffee table. An almost perfect parallel of growth between nature and the human inhabitants. The sounds of laughter and elated cheering and chants still ring through the halls. 

But upstairs, there is another light that never goes out; the desk lamp of an emerging adult, who spends more time in their head than the world around them most days. So many thoughts swirl and braid together, or float away before they can ever fully form, and sometimes never return. And within that space, there are the pillars of their values and character on display for anyone to see; perseverance, humility, and above all else, a yearning to live a fulfilling life. The remnants of childhood interests and passion still shine with posters on the wall, figurines, and little scribbles on the insides of notebooks. The most common being “You are only as good as your values.” But what exactly are those values? Are those values a steady foundation or a roadblock? 

The deeper I wade into graduate studies, forensic linguistics, and simultaneously, my own life, the more it calls into question all my secure bases, especially as far as this thesis is concerned. The past couple of weeks have been nothing but mounting, and now insurmountable negativity and frustration, some internal and some absorbed from others. It’s coming from all angles and no matter what I do, nothing seems to be getting better. I can’t even put everything into words.

My project, if there even is one, just feels so obtuse and unfocused, and it sucks, for lack of a better phrase. (Actually, fucking sucks would be more accurate. Apologies for the one swear.) It feels like there’s a minimum direction and no clear vision of what to do. Every week is the same routine; research and lit review. Research and lit review and maybe some more pathetic attempts at research design. All of it is fueled by survivalist instincts, of being able to kid me into thinking I’m inching closer towards the things I want to accomplish when I’m running on a treadmill, not a track. I hate this feeling of lingering dread, and the anticipation of failure, even though I know that fear is unfounded because at least I’m trying. Part of it stems from those values that I think define a large part of who I am; what is the point of caring so much, or trying so hard when the exact opposite would probably still get me the same results with less internal pressure? Everything I like or care about feels kind of stupid right now. Why bother putting my playlists into blog posts anymore? Who cares other than me what’s going on in my life or what I care about? Is it all that Seneca I read during my adolescent years that led me to reify the belief a facade of happiness is my own form of stoicism I must maintain, and that’s why I won’t give it up? And why does recognizing frustration always have to feel so much more like a blame game than humility and self-care in action? There’s way too much happening all at once, and it’s happening to me, because of and in spite of myself. And the worst part is, it feels like this turmoil is supposed to be normal. (I know it’s not. But all of the above is by and large why I didn’t post last week.) 

To focus specifically on my thesis, I know that there’s only one accurate way to define what it feels like in this very moment; this thesis is comparable to a never-ending three-on-five penalty kill, with the opposing five being the Russian Five line. (I picked this line in particular not only for their cultural impact and significance in how hockey is now played but also because Igor Larionov is nicknamed “The Professor.” Here’s to looking at you, Dr. Zamora!) I have no illusions about myself or my blogs, which probably aren’t the must-reads I wish they were, so I might as well, continue the breakdown of my breakdown over this thesis so far with hockey rhetoric! (Maybe it’ll get me somewhere, or at least make hockey make more sense, or seem interesting to anyone who reads it!)

Play-by-Play Going Into The Second Period

I picked a topic, so that’s like winning a face-off. It’s a small victory, but it kicks everything else in the three periods into gear. My main tread thus far has been my nearly-complete literature review; I made a tizzy of an outline of the areas I’d target and different sources to do so, and I stuck to it! We can count that as an even-strength goal. I figured out what methods of analysis I would need for either a research paper or a creative project. This deserves the distinction of a power-play goal. I couldn’t figure out what question I wanted to ask of all my sources and research methodology; we’ll call that a penalty for something like charging or roughing since I was not nice to myself that week. (Good thing my favorite little old man was there to save the day! I guess Dad’s kind of like a coach in this scenario.) After I figured that question out, the first penalty kill of this process came to a close, and it was back to even strength for a bit! Next came the tricky part of figuring out how to actually conduct an original qualitative research experiment; the challenge and fear it brings about while working in tandem with a different research angle, one of media studies and analysis for research days is a lot like an odd-man rush. Luckily, the netminder was on par as far as the second idea went, so the puck was covered, and with a few dings off the pipes but no goals-against, the first period of play drew to an end. 

As the second period started, tensions began to mount, and it was clear in the sloppy play. In the quest to get other assignments and responsibilities cleared away, the puck, or my focus, was bobbled. My defense, which was the intricate mix of Notion, Google Calendar, and timers galore, wasn’t enough to sustain my mechanical approach to school, leaving it to take a big hit along the boards. And then it happened; the first goal-against. And a short-handed one, to boot! The replay didn’t show the whole picture, but it also didn’t hide the things I’d rather shy away from admitting to; I started crumbling under the pressure, and that gave way to more than a little apathy. That question of why care and really try when others doing the opposite always get ahead anyway just echoed, like an annoying goal horn, and no matter how much I tried to prove my own resilience to myself, it was futile. I could get on board with everything but my thesis, which constituted a really long time-out. But, the game must either go on, or be forfeited, so it was time for another line change. 

Analyzing structures of power, macro and micro depictions of bonding, examining the various identities and mitigation strategies of conflict, linguistic injustice, and bias on a global scale, the issues of race, politics, and individual identities that bleed into a collective identity, sometimes prescriptive and oftentimes independently constructed and contested all come naturally to me to a degree. So does drawing the connections and similarities between the concepts. It keeps my plus-minus stat (or goal differential, if you prefer), relatively neutral. Eh, I’ll be nice and say I’m at least +12 for the semester not counting this turmoil. 

It’s fascinating to surmise this is the content I’m excelling with, but the thesis I chose and I feel an attachment, or bond to, that I would count as a reflection of my academic identity is just a waking nightmare every time I see a related file on my computer. And yes, it still haunts me in everything I do, and through many of my thoughts, and as my work in other classes shows, I know how to apply forensic linguistics to various forms of text. So, it’s not all for naught! I can consider my applicational prowess of forensic linguistics my one-timer. 

Some of the frustration stems from feeling like an outlier, knowing that this is one hell of a research design; it’s focalized around analyzing published articles and techniques and systems already in motion, so prior experience isn’t something I can really rely on. All my research so far has involved some quantitative element, or at least original data collection at the very least. There’s also the aggravation of wondering if I’m even doing anything right. I consulted this article, which I know is science-based, but what is protocol analysis if not meta-analysis? I checked out and skimmed several different books from both the Kean and local library to figure out how to proceed from here. I really tried to hold it together and pick at it and stay positive, but it feels like I shot for the moon, and instead of landing amongst the stars, I’m floating in cold space depth. Alternatively, I’m seven and gazing through a telescope again, and my thesis is the star that’s a million and one lightyears away.

And yet, here we remain, with about a week and a half to my thesis presentation. I can be honest and admit I picked the week of Thanksgiving to present on purpose because I had my fingers crossed fewer folks would be coming to class. (It’s also because my family doesn’t celebrate and presenting that day wouldn’t be messing up anything out of the ordinary for me.)  

So, I guess that between the aggravation and unclear path forward, coupled with a looming presentation, this is why I’m on a three-on-five penalty kill. And it doesn’t look like that door is opening up anytime soon. 

I Have Scaled These City Walls, I Was Cold As A Stone

One of the cruelest ironies of life this past week was the fact that every time I drove home from school this week, I managed to catch, “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” by U2 on the radio. Four different days, and three different stations. By Thursday, something in me just snapped. I mean, what the hell is this cosmic message supposed to be? A call to action? A sign everything will be OK? Another reminder of the time crunch I’m in? Sympathy from Bono himself? Two emotions Venn diagramed; anger and determination. Forensic linguistics lends itself quite well to detective work, which is the reason I found myself dabbling on the other side of the thesis world, in the creative writing universe. I’ll share it out in another blog post later this week, so it’ll also ease the embarrassment I feel about not posting at all last week, 

I’m Odds and Ends, But I’ll Be Stumbling Away

I feel like I just wrote a lot but had nothing meaningful to say. I feel slightly better, don’t get me wrong! I was able to address the story so far, somewhat from an outside perspective, and I put into perspective what is at stake in terms of my emotions and identity. Something has to come out of all this, right? 

Like a-ha, I’m slowly learning that life is OK. It’s another cruel irony of the radio on the way home, but as I parked across from the backdoor on Thursday, where the family-friendly sedan with a dent made by yours truly used to reside, “Take On Me,” in all its meme glory and annoying pop-ishness seemed like a sign of good times ahead. 

Catch you later this week!

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!

Two or Three Minutes, Two or Three Hours

“The highest compliment you can pay me is that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.” – Wayne Gretzky 

A Brief Introduction

Let me start this blog with one of the most awe-striking and inspiring things I can share with you that has happened since our last class meeting; the New Jersey Devils started their season with a massive, heart-pounding, and invigorating overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks, setting a record for the quickest goal ever scored in a season-opening game in the process! (The childlike excitement of opening nights, and every game thereafter never goes away! I can feel my face splitting into a grin just typing this!) Between the excitement of one event and being sidelined with allergies this weekend, I guess you could say I binged on my thesis work this weekend, and there’s not only a sense of clarity but so much more investment on my part to keep the momentum and meaning going! I should also make it clear that I think headings are going to become a staple of my blog posts from here on out; it’s mainly an organizational tactic to make sure all my bases are covered and labeled clearly, and it’s also for the aesthetic that comes with the outline sidebar on Google Docs. 

There’s a whole soundtrack that goes along with this post, so I’ll let you choose between starting with either “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Spirits – Sondr Remix” by The Strumbellas, or “Bo Exotic” by Turbo, and then going to one of the others. 

Thesis Progress 

The Research Side 

From the research perspective, I am situated right where I want to be for this moment in the semester. I have amassed just about 16 solid peer-reviewed articles taken from databases, an array of newspaper clippings that span from the genesis of forensic linguistics in the late 1960s to the present day detailing either implicitly or explicitly the presence of forensic linguistics, three podcasts in their entirety and various assorted episodes of others, a handful of documentaries, and a few more books that I am currently working through reading and marking up. (Thank you to Dr. Fall, if you are reading this, for giving me a godsend with Word Crimes! I found it in digital form for free through Kean! Still working on the Routledge Handbook.) The research I have thus far covers a couple of categories: written evidence analysis(both the spoken evidence analysis (interviews and otherwise) and the complexities that come with recorded or digitally enhanced forensic linguistic analysis.

Assessing what I have so far, I recognize that there is a need for more articles that highlight the genesis and evolution of the field, rather than just the application and implication, and this will be my focus for the upcoming week. (I say week, but I have the Learning Commons popped open in another tab, and I know that the texts I am thumbing through have material that is suitable for this purpose.) Additionally, I am interested in looking into the nature of police investigation and interrogation techniques, and the tandem of linguistic, psychological, and sociological factors, issues, and implications embedded within them. (I figure this is enriching information for my project, and even if I don’t end up having a need for it, just in general.) Thus far, my starting point is two books I’ve rented in digital form from the school library, a handful of podcast pieces, and some journal articles I have left over from my forensic psychology class from my undergraduate minor. An avenue I could take to finding solid sources on this sub-topic would be to find some way to retrieve the syllabus with all the linked articles, if possible, or reach out to the professor directly. I could supplement this plan with targeted database searches and continuously sifting through podcasts.

Something paramount to finding a beginning, and serving as an origin or sounding board when I do get stuck in a loop has been looking at forensic linguistics-based graduate programs across the country, and running a marathon through any readily available syllabi, recommended resources on program websites, and sifting through the related resources and articles that then appear within databases. (This process is also giving me further education and career goals and dreams, but that’s a whole different ballpark!)

I have also looked into adjacent subjects and fields to bolster my research, including corpus linguistics, or the practice of amassing large bodies of “real-life” language stored in computer databases and utilizing it for researching trends, shifts, and other noteworthy linguistic phenomena. The purpose of going a bit offside is two-fold; one, this is a field I am familiar with thanks to the work I completed in Dr. Nelson’s course, which means I have ample understanding and some sources in the bank, and two, I am starting to see a connection between the two fields, in the sense that with so much of forensic linguistics moving into the virtual realm, the overlap between that and corpus linguistics is about to Venn diagram. Also, corpus linguistics is taking root in the legal world, which is critical to explicating the necessity of forensic linguistics.

(I’m beginning to seriously consider submitting an application for Research Days, because this is something I think people will be interested in once it is brought to their attention, and it is good motivation!)  

To further clarify what my research is shaping up to look like, here’s a quick outline of the moving components for each category/subcategory and some brief rationales and descriptions! (Let me know if you think it is too much, not enough, or needs something else, like a plan for how to integrate everything or more cowbell!)

  1. Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Genesis and History of Forensic Linguistics 
    2. Categories of Forensic Linguistics/Areas of Application
      1. Written Evidence Analysis 
        1. Offshoot of discourse analysis – examining language construction, syntax, phonological structure, etc. 
          1. Can be either digital or handwritten 
          2. Handwritten instances offer potential to branch into forensic stenography – signature/handwriting analysis, forgery investigations, writing under duress, etc. 
            1. Sources/Research that Relate to this area of application 
  • ransom notes, forgery, contract disputes, blackmail, suicide note analysis, journal entries examination, etc. 
  1. Impact – Authorship, intent, and patterns of behavior can be established through analysis of writing, social media activity, etc. 
  1. Spoken Word Analysis 
    1. Heavy on Discourse Theory and Analysis
      1. Deals with issues of linguistic bias, linguistic profiling, the need for cultural sensitivity, etc. 
      2. Presents itself in eyewitness accounts, interviews, testimony, etc.
      3. Brings to light the question of how linguistic bias is often counted over actual forensic linguistic application, and how it has contributed to wrongful incarceration, coerced false confessions, etc. 
  2. Digital Evidence Analysis 
    1. Ties back into written analysis in a way 
      1. Examining the digital interpersonal communication between individuals can discern knowledge, patterns, responsibility, etc. 
        1. Examination can also lead to uncovering rings of other involvement, can highlight deceptive linguistic tactics used to hide authorship/mimic the speech of others (ex. “Deep fakes”)
      2. Is a component of what connects forensic linguistics to corpus linguistics
    2. Computer-Based Forensic Linguistic Analysis 
      1. As algorithms become more refined and are employed by both scientists and those in the criminal justice system alike, how will this change the field and the outcomes of individuals?
  3. Enhanced Audio Evidence 
    1. Speaker Identification 
      1. In a recorded instance, such as a wiretap (see The Wire for reference or cases that involve 911 call analysis)
    2. Linguistic Profiling and Speech Pattern Recognition
  1. Other Instances of Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Police Interviews/Interrogations + Tactics
    2. Eyewitness Accounts
    3. Courtroom Testimonies + Jury Deliberation 
  2. Implications (Legal, Psychological, etc.)
  3. Gaps/Issues in the Field 
    1. Cultural Sensitivity 
    2. Police Training 
    3. Perception and Evaluation of Linguistic Evidence 
    4. Jury/Judicial Linguistic Bias
    5. Effect of Media Portrayal 
      1. Optional to pursue, but still important as the expectations set by TV or media portrayals of the field may yield real-life implications (CSI effect) 
  1. Corpus Linguistics 
    1. Overview/Genesis
    2. Connection to Digital Forensic Linguistics
    3. Connection to Trends in Eyewitness Accounts/Jury Deliberations
  2. Methodology/Analysis 
    1. Discourse Analysis 
    2. Protocol Analysis 

The Creative Side (If There is One and Time for It)

Why Is This Needed? What Will It Be?

With the scope of my project and everything outlined above, a research paper or a deeper delve into the field of forensic linguistics seems like what I’m aiming for, or would at least be the easiest route to travel, given the time constraints of these pesky little things called semesters. Yet, I find myself drawn to wanting to do both because as I am beginning to find, my brain really likes the word tandem (years of being a hockey fan, I suppose) and as such, even my thesis has to be a tandem project of both research and creativity. All the research I have done thus far would have been necessary for a creative piece, and even if it isn’t for this course, I know the opportunity to convert everything I know into a study or analysis is a possibility! (Also, I’m really considering forensic linguistics as a career path going forward, so it doesn’t hurt getting as familiar with it as I possibly can!) Plus, it’s a challenge for me! I get to play both time management and meeting academic deadlines and standards on expert mode, and I love that! 

As multifaceted as it is as a field, forensic linguistics also offers a wealth of creative writing ideas; it could be a screenplay or script for a TV show episode (which reminds me, I need to sit down and watch  NYPD Blue and find the paper that analyzes its use of forensic linguistics!), material for a podcast, a short story, a whole novel, an interactive story, or an e-lit piece. Currently, I am leaning towards incorporating some of the core elements of forensic linguistics that interest me and crafting a handful of short stories that detail just how much of a role forensic linguistics plays in different settings, as outlined above, while also highlighting the emerging and pressing issues of inequities and bias. I can change the cast of characters every time, and I can further delve into sub-categories of forensic work, such as forensic stenography or forensic audiology this way, without the messiness of trying to work these concepts into a research paper may entail. 

So, I guess to give you a quick recap: Yes, there is research that has occurred and remains ongoing, comprised of several areas of interest and key concepts. Simultaneously, there are plans to begin writing informed short stories that not only synthesize several aspects of the completed research but highlight important issues within the field and offer, in a fictitious setting, workarounds, and solutions. The latter is to be determined, depending on time constraints. 

Setting Goals For Progress

Where Is This Going?

I’m guessing that by now, the three songs from earlier have definitely run their course, so put on “Let’s Work Together” by Dwight Yoakam since that’s essentially the spirit both sides of this project happen to be taking on! 

It always comes back to research first, and it’s a matter of first clearing out everything on my digital library loan bookshelf. I have twenty-one days to comb through the four books I have checked out, and I plan to tackle this systemically. I will first take a look through the table of content, select two chapters from each, and proceed to first skim, and then read and annotate if it proves to be fruitful. Word Crimes is the one text I plan to read in its entirety for the emphasis it places on issues of equity, the fact that it is a leading contemporary text in the field, and for the personal enrichment it will bring. Following this, I will finish out the remaining podcasts in my queue with associated notes and then reload with podcasts around the topics of police interviewing training, false and coerced confessions, and corpus linguistics.

When it comes to the methods of analysis, I have a solid understanding and amount of sources to support my rationale for the particular methodologies and their application ready from my work in Dr. Nelson’s class, so this is not a priority at the moment.

I have already created a Google Drive folder with PDFs for the bulk of my sources in the form of articles and some newspaper articles and will continue tidying up and integrating my annotations for each article, as well as podcast episodes into this same folder, and create a separate space on my website to round out the idea of a “public literature review” or research project coming to life. In addition to this, I have a running bibliography page, all in APA 7 format, as that is what I am most comfortable with. (Also because my other courses are requiring it and it’s easier on my brain.) 

To achieve these goals, I am going to have to carve out at least two hours a day for thesis work, which I know I can do, though I’m not sure where I’m going to gain the two hours from just yet. I also plan to use my weekends for the part of my research that may or may not be necessary; the media portrayal of forensic linguistics. (It’s a reason to watch TV and think critically about it without being a “nerd” who “can’t stop thinking about school-related things.”)

On the creative side of things, there is going to be a synthesis of the completed research to discern points of interest, importance, and concern, and much more brainstorming must be done before any writing commences. I’m setting a deadline for two weeks from now for there to be a separate Google Drive folder created for the creative component that includes the following: a solid rationale for why this portion of my thesis is necessary, a graphic organizer for each component of forensic linguistics I hope to cover in my short stories, and a rough outline of the first story of what I hope is many. 

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself 

For the first time last week, I had someone outside my circle of classmates, friends, and family ask me the questions I think everyone needs to revisit as their project and passion continues to grow: Why this topic, and what are you hoping to learn from it, or do with it? Why should other people even care about forensic linguistics? And in the sections below, I hope to explicate just that, if only briefly. 

Why Am I Interested in This? 

My interest in the topic was born, in part, out of my inherent interest in the CSI TV series and franchise, as it showed that there is so much more to the trial and prosecution of individuals than just arrests and trials, and there were several instances where the specific language was used in interviews that the characters knew would connect with the suspect or instances where handwriting, digital files, or audio were examined as evidence just as critical as a fingerprint. From that point forward, I knew that there was a way to utilize my love of language and ability to deconstruct and identify meanings, patterns, and intent for something monumental. 

The work that forensic linguistics entails can quite literally change the trajectory of someone’s life; admissions of guilt can be proven to be coerced or misinterpreted, intent in language can be reframed as innocence, and testimony can be shredded or bolstered. Behind each exchange of words, there is an intent, malicious or not, and there is an interpretation that deserves to be recognized and examined. 

Who Am I Doing This For?

First and foremost, I’m engaged in the field of forensic linguistics to bring justice to those who are denied; those with the dialects deemed “inferior” “unreliable” “uneducated” “twangy” or any other derogatory term. There’s a correlation between those who are denied justice and those who are told that their language is a damning factor for them. I do this for those who have proven that they have intentions to harm others, who have established those patterns, and to bring them to justice as well. 

In terms of why I leave myself semi-vulnerable in every post or seem to be going outside the scope of a professional graduate student, with the hockey and meme and music references, it’s because I do the actual thesis work, and stayed in grad school essentially to inspire others, and take away some of the fear and trepidation for them. Like me, there is someone who might be questioning where they belong academically, and where they fit in the grand scheme of things. There could be someone out there who knows who they are, what they are interested in beyond the academic world, and what they want to do, and just needs to see someone else who is a human, who isn’t yet settled into a career, who has relatable struggles, and who has held onto more than just their academic persona exists. And maybe I’m not the strongest example, but I hope to be one of them.

What Do I Hope To Accomplish With This Work?

The primary goal of my research is to give myself a strong foundation in the history, practice, and implications of the field to ensure that I can indeed apply and critique my skills. I also hope to illustrate the radiating impact of the field to others and pass along the same level of concern and awareness, whether it is through teaching or being a subject-matter expert.

How Are My Analytics Looking? 

If you’re still here after everything else, thank you! You deserve some fresh music, and since we are on such a journey, it’s only fitting that we listen to “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart. I used analytics because I’m not only a sucker for sports analogies, but I think this post has cleared up a lot of questions about what I’m doing, how I’m facilitating it, and the intentions going into, going through, and hopefully coming out of this project, which is similar to analytics that show the trajectory of a player’s season or career. To tie it all together and back to hockey, I guess I’m in the phase of both my thesis progression and my life where high-danger chances are being presented to me left and right or I’m consistently finding myself on the powerplay, and I just need to find the momentum to convert! 

Regardless, I’m going to cap it here for now (or at least here for this blog post for this week), and with our young hearts being free, I will see you all on the other side! 

Two or Three Minutes, Two or Three Hours

“The highest compliment you can pay me is that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.” – Wayne Gretzky 

A Brief Introduction

Let me start this blog with one of the most awe-striking and inspiring things I can share with you that has happened since our last class meeting; the New Jersey Devils started their season with a massive, heart-pounding, and invigorating overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks, setting a record for the quickest goal ever scored in a season-opening game in the process! (The childlike excitement of opening nights, and every game thereafter never goes away! I can feel my face splitting into a grin just typing this!) Between the excitement of one event and being sidelined with allergies this weekend, I guess you could say I binged on my thesis work this weekend, and there’s not only a sense of clarity but so much more investment on my part to keep the momentum and meaning going! I should also make it clear that I think headings are going to become a staple of my blog posts from here on out; it’s mainly an organizational tactic to make sure all my bases are covered and labeled clearly, and it’s also for the aesthetic that comes with the outline sidebar on Google Docs. 

There’s a whole soundtrack that goes along with this post, so I’ll let you choose between starting with either “Wake Me Up” by Avicii, “Spirits – Sondr Remix” by The Strumbellas, or “Bo Exotic” by Turbo, and then going to one of the others. 

Thesis Progress 

The Research Side 

From the research perspective, I am situated right where I want to be for this moment in the semester. I have amassed just about 16 solid peer-reviewed articles taken from databases, an array of newspaper clippings that span from the genesis of forensic linguistics in the late 1960s to the present day detailing either implicitly or explicitly the presence of forensic linguistics, three podcasts in their entirety and various assorted episodes of others, a handful of documentaries, and a few more books that I am currently working through reading and marking up. (Thank you to Dr. Fall, if you are reading this, for giving me a godsend with Word Crimes! I found it in digital form for free through Kean! Still working on the Routledge Handbook.) The research I have thus far covers a couple of categories: written evidence analysis(both the spoken evidence analysis (interviews and otherwise) and the complexities that come with recorded or digitally enhanced forensic linguistic analysis.

Assessing what I have so far, I recognize that there is a need for more articles that highlight the genesis and evolution of the field, rather than just the application and implication, and this will be my focus for the upcoming week. (I say week, but I have the Learning Commons popped open in another tab, and I know that the texts I am thumbing through have material that is suitable for this purpose.) Additionally, I am interested in looking into the nature of police investigation and interrogation techniques, and the tandem of linguistic, psychological, and sociological factors, issues, and implications embedded within them. (I figure this is enriching information for my project, and even if I don’t end up having a need for it, just in general.) Thus far, my starting point is two books I’ve rented in digital form from the school library, a handful of podcast pieces, and some journal articles I have left over from my forensic psychology class from my undergraduate minor. An avenue I could take to finding solid sources on this sub-topic would be to find some way to retrieve the syllabus with all the linked articles, if possible, or reach out to the professor directly. I could supplement this plan with targeted database searches and continuously sifting through podcasts.

Something paramount to finding a beginning, and serving as an origin or sounding board when I do get stuck in a loop has been looking at forensic linguistics-based graduate programs across the country, and running a marathon through any readily available syllabi, recommended resources on program websites, and sifting through the related resources and articles that then appear within databases. (This process is also giving me further education and career goals and dreams, but that’s a whole different ballpark!)

I have also looked into adjacent subjects and fields to bolster my research, including corpus linguistics, or the practice of amassing large bodies of “real-life” language stored in computer databases and utilizing it for researching trends, shifts, and other noteworthy linguistic phenomena. The purpose of going a bit offside is two-fold; one, this is a field I am familiar with thanks to the work I completed in Dr. Nelson’s course, which means I have ample understanding and some sources in the bank, and two, I am starting to see a connection between the two fields, in the sense that with so much of forensic linguistics moving into the virtual realm, the overlap between that and corpus linguistics is about to Venn diagram. Also, corpus linguistics is taking root in the legal world, which is critical to explicating the necessity of forensic linguistics.

(I’m beginning to seriously consider submitting an application for Research Days, because this is something I think people will be interested in once it is brought to their attention, and it is good motivation!)  

To further clarify what my research is shaping up to look like, here’s a quick outline of the moving components for each category/subcategory and some brief rationales and descriptions! (Let me know if you think it is too much, not enough, or needs something else, like a plan for how to integrate everything or more cowbell!)

  1. Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Genesis and History of Forensic Linguistics 
    2. Categories of Forensic Linguistics/Areas of Application
      1. Written Evidence Analysis 
        1. Offshoot of discourse analysis – examining language construction, syntax, phonological structure, etc. 
          1. Can be either digital or handwritten 
          2. Handwritten instances offer potential to branch into forensic stenography – signature/handwriting analysis, forgery investigations, writing under duress, etc. 
            1. Sources/Research that Relate to this area of application 
  • ransom notes, forgery, contract disputes, blackmail, suicide note analysis, journal entries examination, etc. 
  1. Impact – Authorship, intent, and patterns of behavior can be established through analysis of writing, social media activity, etc. 
  1. Spoken Word Analysis 
    1. Heavy on Discourse Theory and Analysis
      1. Deals with issues of linguistic bias, linguistic profiling, the need for cultural sensitivity, etc. 
      2. Presents itself in eyewitness accounts, interviews, testimony, etc.
      3. Brings to light the question of how linguistic bias is often counted over actual forensic linguistic application, and how it has contributed to wrongful incarceration, coerced false confessions, etc. 
  2. Digital Evidence Analysis 
    1. Ties back into written analysis in a way 
      1. Examining the digital interpersonal communication between individuals can discern knowledge, patterns, responsibility, etc. 
        1. Examination can also lead to uncovering rings of other involvement, can highlight deceptive linguistic tactics used to hide authorship/mimic the speech of others (ex. “Deep fakes”)
      2. Is a component of what connects forensic linguistics to corpus linguistics
    2. Computer-Based Forensic Linguistic Analysis 
      1. As algorithms become more refined and are employed by both scientists and those in the criminal justice system alike, how will this change the field and the outcomes of individuals?
  3. Enhanced Audio Evidence 
    1. Speaker Identification 
      1. In a recorded instance, such as a wiretap (see The Wire for reference or cases that involve 911 call analysis)
    2. Linguistic Profiling and Speech Pattern Recognition
  1. Other Instances of Forensic Linguistics 
    1. Police Interviews/Interrogations + Tactics
    2. Eyewitness Accounts
    3. Courtroom Testimonies + Jury Deliberation 
  2. Implications (Legal, Psychological, etc.)
  3. Gaps/Issues in the Field 
    1. Cultural Sensitivity 
    2. Police Training 
    3. Perception and Evaluation of Linguistic Evidence 
    4. Jury/Judicial Linguistic Bias
    5. Effect of Media Portrayal 
      1. Optional to pursue, but still important as the expectations set by TV or media portrayals of the field may yield real-life implications (CSI effect) 
  1. Corpus Linguistics 
    1. Overview/Genesis
    2. Connection to Digital Forensic Linguistics
    3. Connection to Trends in Eyewitness Accounts/Jury Deliberations
  2. Methodology/Analysis 
    1. Discourse Analysis 
    2. Protocol Analysis 

The Creative Side (If There is One and Time for It)

Why Is This Needed? What Will It Be?

With the scope of my project and everything outlined above, a research paper or a deeper delve into the field of forensic linguistics seems like what I’m aiming for, or would at least be the easiest route to travel, given the time constraints of these pesky little things called semesters. Yet, I find myself drawn to wanting to do both because as I am beginning to find, my brain really likes the word tandem (years of being a hockey fan, I suppose) and as such, even my thesis has to be a tandem project of both research and creativity. All the research I have done thus far would have been necessary for a creative piece, and even if it isn’t for this course, I know the opportunity to convert everything I know into a study or analysis is a possibility! (Also, I’m really considering forensic linguistics as a career path going forward, so it doesn’t hurt getting as familiar with it as I possibly can!) Plus, it’s a challenge for me! I get to play both time management and meeting academic deadlines and standards on expert mode, and I love that! 

As multifaceted as it is as a field, forensic linguistics also offers a wealth of creative writing ideas; it could be a screenplay or script for a TV show episode (which reminds me, I need to sit down and watch  NYPD Blue and find the paper that analyzes its use of forensic linguistics!), material for a podcast, a short story, a whole novel, an interactive story, or an e-lit piece. Currently, I am leaning towards incorporating some of the core elements of forensic linguistics that interest me and crafting a handful of short stories that detail just how much of a role forensic linguistics plays in different settings, as outlined above, while also highlighting the emerging and pressing issues of inequities and bias. I can change the cast of characters every time, and I can further delve into sub-categories of forensic work, such as forensic stenography or forensic audiology this way, without the messiness of trying to work these concepts into a research paper may entail. 

So, I guess to give you a quick recap: Yes, there is research that has occurred and remains ongoing, comprised of several areas of interest and key concepts. Simultaneously, there are plans to begin writing informed short stories that not only synthesize several aspects of the completed research but highlight important issues within the field and offer, in a fictitious setting, workarounds, and solutions. The latter is to be determined, depending on time constraints. 

Setting Goals For Progress

Where Is This Going?

I’m guessing that by now, the three songs from earlier have definitely run their course, so put on “Let’s Work Together” by Dwight Yoakam since that’s essentially the spirit both sides of this project happen to be taking on! 

It always comes back to research first, and it’s a matter of first clearing out everything on my digital library loan bookshelf. I have twenty-one days to comb through the four books I have checked out, and I plan to tackle this systemically. I will first take a look through the table of content, select two chapters from each, and proceed to first skim, and then read and annotate if it proves to be fruitful. Word Crimes is the one text I plan to read in its entirety for the emphasis it places on issues of equity, the fact that it is a leading contemporary text in the field, and for the personal enrichment it will bring. Following this, I will finish out the remaining podcasts in my queue with associated notes and then reload with podcasts around the topics of police interviewing training, false and coerced confessions, and corpus linguistics.

When it comes to the methods of analysis, I have a solid understanding and amount of sources to support my rationale for the particular methodologies and their application ready from my work in Dr. Nelson’s class, so this is not a priority at the moment.

I have already created a Google Drive folder with PDFs for the bulk of my sources in the form of articles and some newspaper articles and will continue tidying up and integrating my annotations for each article, as well as podcast episodes into this same folder, and create a separate space on my website to round out the idea of a “public literature review” or research project coming to life. In addition to this, I have a running bibliography page, all in APA 7 format, as that is what I am most comfortable with. (Also because my other courses are requiring it and it’s easier on my brain.) 

To achieve these goals, I am going to have to carve out at least two hours a day for thesis work, which I know I can do, though I’m not sure where I’m going to gain the two hours from just yet. I also plan to use my weekends for the part of my research that may or may not be necessary; the media portrayal of forensic linguistics. (It’s a reason to watch TV and think critically about it without being a “nerd” who “can’t stop thinking about school-related things.”)

On the creative side of things, there is going to be a synthesis of the completed research to discern points of interest, importance, and concern, and much more brainstorming must be done before any writing commences. I’m setting a deadline for two weeks from now for there to be a separate Google Drive folder created for the creative component that includes the following: a solid rationale for why this portion of my thesis is necessary, a graphic organizer for each component of forensic linguistics I hope to cover in my short stories, and a rough outline of the first story of what I hope is many. 

Allow Me to Reintroduce Myself 

For the first time last week, I had someone outside my circle of classmates, friends, and family ask me the questions I think everyone needs to revisit as their project and passion continues to grow: Why this topic, and what are you hoping to learn from it, or do with it? Why should other people even care about forensic linguistics? And in the sections below, I hope to explicate just that, if only briefly. 

Why Am I Interested in This? 

My interest in the topic was born, in part, out of my inherent interest in the CSI TV series and franchise, as it showed that there is so much more to the trial and prosecution of individuals than just arrests and trials, and there were several instances where the specific language was used in interviews that the characters knew would connect with the suspect or instances where handwriting, digital files, or audio were examined as evidence just as critical as a fingerprint. From that point forward, I knew that there was a way to utilize my love of language and ability to deconstruct and identify meanings, patterns, and intent for something monumental. 

The work that forensic linguistics entails can quite literally change the trajectory of someone’s life; admissions of guilt can be proven to be coerced or misinterpreted, intent in language can be reframed as innocence, and testimony can be shredded or bolstered. Behind each exchange of words, there is an intent, malicious or not, and there is an interpretation that deserves to be recognized and examined. 

Who Am I Doing This For?

First and foremost, I’m engaged in the field of forensic linguistics to bring justice to those who are denied; those with the dialects deemed “inferior” “unreliable” “uneducated” “twangy” or any other derogatory term. There’s a correlation between those who are denied justice and those who are told that their language is a damning factor for them. I do this for those who have proven that they have intentions to harm others, who have established those patterns, and to bring them to justice as well. 

What Do I Hope To Accomplish With This Work?

The primary goal of my research is to give myself a strong foundation in the history, practice, and implications of the field to ensure that I can indeed apply and critique my skills. I also hope to illustrate the radiating impact of the field to others and pass along the same level of concern and awareness, whether it is through teaching or being a subject-matter expert.

How Are My Analytics Looking? 

If you’re still here after everything else, thank you! You deserve some fresh music, and since we are on such a journey, it’s only fitting that we listen to “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart. I used analytics because I’m not only a sucker for sports analogies, but I think this post has cleared up a lot of questions about what I’m doing, how I’m facilitating it, and the intentions going into, going through, and hopefully coming out of this project, which is similar to analytics that show the trajectory of a player’s season or career. To tie it all together and back to hockey, I guess I’m in the phase of both my thesis progression and my life where high-danger chances are being presented to me left and right or I’m consistently finding myself on the powerplay, and I just need to find the momentum to convert! 

Regardless, I’m going to cap it here for now (or at least here for this blog post for this week), and with our young hearts being free, I will see you all on the other side! 

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!