Tag Archives: mental health

I Love You And That’s All I Really Know

Is This In My Head? I Don’t Know What to Think.

Someday, my thesis will have a happy ending just like Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” (Yes, my undergraduate degree is in literature, and I do know how Romeo and Juliet actually ends. I just really love the song, and I’m in a very Valentine’s Day mood!) After all, she had only three minutes and fifty-five seconds to capture the spirit of Shakespeare’s timeless tale and integrate her reimagined ending. The time crunch of working with what’s available and your own insight and perspective being imperative to the overall completion of the project is essentially what my thesis project is shaping up to be. Time is something that’s been stressing me out lately, on a grander scale than just thesis completion. It sounds silly, especially typing it out and posting where so many people can see it, but I feel like I’m falling behind in life in so many ways, even though I know I still have so many places to go and so much time ahead of me. All the things I love that I would normally fill this space writing about briefly, like my runs or Riveters and Devils hockey or the Mets have been really hard for me to enjoy lately. In the oddest sense, it feels like I don’t deserve to enjoy anything fun because I don’t have that perfect full-time job or amazing burst of inspiration to do something spectacular like write a whole book. I find that I’m tuned out most of the time and I don’t know how to plug back in.  

Life almost feels like it is at a standstill with everything that is out of my control and all of the waiting I’ve been doing lately; waiting for someone to return the book I need to the library, waiting in traffic, waiting to hear about whether or not I’m even going to get an interview for a job … The list of things I’m constantly waiting on could stretch the length of this blog post, so I’ll cut it short and instead offer you a glimpse into how both my thesis and research are regressing and progressing! 

How Do I Know When It’s Love?

Just like how Van Halen is on the cusp, but questioning, “When It’s Love,” I find myself looking at my thesis and wondering “how do I know I’m progressing and doing well?” I went the “conventional” route with the research and added my own spin by deciding to galvanize a field often forgotten about or left undiscovered, which would be the equivalent of putting my heart on the line. But, just like everything else I cherish lately, it’s been a rolling stone when I need something rock steady. I pulled myself through the introduction and literature review, and now I’m at a standstill with the methodology; there’s just no focus to it, and nothing to engage with, creating a situation somewhat similar to wondering whether it’s worth chasing down and going after. It’s a tangled web that temporarily hurts to look at or even think about, and I guess I’m going to have to revise my thesis timeline and give myself a few extra days until this upcoming Friday rather than Wednesday to get it where I want it to be. Most of the issue seems to be trying to justify the approach I’m taking with the case study by finding something similar or a researcher’s name to attach to the way I’m using a case study to validate my approach. But, I think that after running through the checklist, it’s nothing but love for forensic linguistics in my heart, and no matter how long it takes, I’ll get to where I need to be!

Dr. Zamora’s idea of creating chapters for my thesis is something that’s also going to help expedite the process and allow for greater exploration and explication of a very vast and complicated topic. Perhaps instead of puzzling over the methodology, I’ll dive into the content and then circle back around.

In the midst of this lover’s quarrel, I found that I needed to still work on something thesis-related, or else this odd feeling of guilt started creeping in. I figured if I couldn’t rationalize or organize my methodology section, maybe someone else could show me how, either by doing it, explaining it, or both. And that is how instead of revising anything I’ve written or trying to recalibrate my methodology section, I came up with a short story, the first to star Rem Shepard, the calm, fringe-bearing forensic linguist. (You’ve definitely spent too much time with me if you can figure out where this name came from.) Depending on how I feel, I might share it on my blog at some point in the future. In fact, maybe I could publish a few through the semester in a serial novel(la) format… I found that in writing creatively on something I’ve researched so thoroughly and so badly want to work with one day, there’s a palpable spirit to the piece, and the pacing and tone are similar to Robin Cook’s, one of my favorite medical fiction authors. 

Hopefully, Rem will make a public appearance before the semester ends under better circumstances than thesis stagnation, possibly even with a new name, and definitely with better writing. Now, onto my Research Days progress, which is far more compelling!

If You Change Your Mind, I’m The First In Line! 

Nothing cheers you up and keeps the Valentine’s Day mood alive quite like ABBA, and for someone trying something that’s trying to break into a field and contribute some fresh scholarship, “Take A Chance On Me,” is right on the money.

Before delving into the research like I thought I would, I figured that it made sense to see how I could pull off the mathematical aspect of the research design I outlined last week. The good news is that I retained most of my statistics knowledge and prowess, and I did pretty decently on some practice problems! But, it would be way too time-consuming and complicated to do all the math by hand, and if I follow through on my plan to poll as many Kean students, faculty, and staff as possible in a convenience sample, I’ll never make the March 25th submission deadline! I’m going to either have to take the time to make a lot of trips to the one computer lab equipped with SPSS on campus, figure out if Computer Services can somehow give me this software for free, pay for it myself, find an open-source tool, or scrap the math entirely. I’ll figure it out at some point this week. 

Beyond just crunching numbers and pointing out flaws, I started combing through some of the literature on the CSI effect, and it is looking pretty sparse! There were only a few academic articles that I was able to gain access to, and I’m still combing the electronic book database, but so far, it isn’t looking too extensive. So, it looks like the bulk of my paper is going to be some integration of that, but a strong use of the case study and content analysis approach yet again to highlight the difference between television versus reality in terms of investigation and policing. I’ve narrowed down my shows for comparison parameters based upon the factors of age, relevance, and popularity based upon Neilsen ratings, the duration of the series, and the relevance it will have to the audience reading my findings. Here’s a list of shows I’ll be working my way through:

  1. NYPD Blue 
  2. CSI Universe (Original + Reboot (CSI: Vegas) CSI: Miami, CSI: NY) 
  3. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit 
  4. Blue Bloods 
  5. Criminal Minds

Thankfully, I’ve seen most of these already, or at least parts. The goal of having this list isn’t to just pick out and watch a ton of television without feeling guilty, but to see what could possibly be shaping the perspective of others, and to help with creating an unbiased and informed survey. If I can get a handle on the different personalities, resources, and aspects that are connotated with investigation and evidence, then I can easily substantiate or disprove my claim, and explain the rationale more thoroughly.

Finally, on this front, I’m elated that as per Dr. Zamora, I can fold this research into my thesis as yet another chapter. Things can only move forward from here!

What More In The Name of Love?

There are few bands I love more than U2, and no song to better summarize what’s at stake going forward than “Pride (In the Name Of Love).” After all, isn’t that what is most at stake here? I have a litany of self-set and official deadlines, but that isn’t going to do much except generate stress and unhappiness. So, here’s a three date list:

  1. March 25th – Deadline to submit poster + pre-recorded presentation for Research Days; totally OK to work on this up to the last moment.
  2. April 10th – The date I hope to have all the parts of my thesis completed by, so I have a substantial amount of time to edit,
  3. May 5 – No matter what, I will submit my work on time! 

As for the feelings of helplessness and worry about not being on track or running out of time, there’s nothing else I can think of doing that could be more effective than speaking to a professional or the school’s counseling center and finding a healthy path forward. 

I Really Love The Things That You Do

It’s only fitting to share a sentiment of love if I’m posting on Valentine’s Day, and in such close proximity to our friend-a-versary. From the moment we met at eighteen, nothing about my life was ever the same. I never thought that I would ever get to feel what it was like to be loved unconditionally or have someone who even just the thought of could instantly get me to smile. There’s no one else whose messages I can read in exactly their voice, and picture clear as day what sort of face they made while typing. A million memories came to the surface of my mind just typing the above two sentences. Braiding your hair in the middle of class because we had both read ahead and weren’t missing anything. Relying on your dog in his infinite cuteness for serotonin. Waking up at seven in the morning to the tune of “Here Comes the Sun.” Asking you to wake me up for class earlier than that because I was scared I’d miss it, and having you just casually lean over me and go “Hey, wake up. You told me to wake you up.” Going to the dining hall at separate times and scaring the staff into thinking something was going on and we were on bad terms when it was just a schedule conflict. 

It means more than you’ll ever realize when you recognize a name when I’m ranting about the Riveters or Mets or the Devils, or remember who plays what position or how many skaters are on the ice because it means you were really listening to something that I care about, even if you don’t. I couldn’t imagine dancing around to old Disney soundtracks and meme songs with anyone else. Anything peach or peppermint scented instantly brings you to mind. There’s tremendous comfort in feeling like I’m getting a hug from you every time I pull one of the crewnecks you gave me on and grinning to myself every time I see what looks like one of your signature steel grey sweatshirts out in public. You’re the only person I’ll ever enjoy everyone always expecting to see with me, and vice versa. After all, I wouldn’t be who I am without being around you so often!

I find myself thinking about all the different ways we say I love you without actually saying the three words; pictures of your dog, memes of things we say throughout the day, sharing our snacks, strong hugs, building playlists for one another, leaving the desk lamp on when one of us wasn’t ready for bed, brushing our teeth together at night, sharing a textbook for class, avoiding the word specific, getting the other to try all sorts of tea, and spilling all the beans about weird nightmares where the other was the star. (I still laugh about the time I ran into the common area to make sure we were still friends after a weird break-up dream.) There’s all sorts of love, but nothing like the kind you share with someone you can look at and say, “You’re My Best Friend,” and have it mean so much. I don’t think there’s a way to fully capture the feeling, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that you’re the Monica to my Joey, the elephant to my fox, the Chen to my DaCosta, and my drop in the ocean.

You’re forever in my heart, and you’ll always have the best of me. I love you, Jamie! 

I Love You And That’s All I Really Know

Is This In My Head? I Don’t Know What to Think.

Someday, my thesis will have a happy ending just like Taylor Swift’s “Love Story.” (Yes, my undergraduate degree is in literature, and I do know how Romeo and Juliet actually ends. I just really love the song, and I’m in a very Valentine’s Day mood!) After all, she had only three minutes and fifty-five seconds to capture the spirit of Shakespeare’s timeless tale and integrate her reimagined ending. The time crunch of working with what’s available and your own insight and perspective being imperative to the overall completion of the project is essentially what my thesis project is shaping up to be. Time is something that’s been stressing me out lately, on a grander scale than just thesis completion. It sounds silly, especially typing it out and posting where so many people can see it, but I feel like I’m falling behind in life in so many ways, even though I know I still have so many places to go and so much time ahead of me. All the things I love that I would normally fill this space writing about briefly, like my runs or Riveters and Devils hockey or the Mets have been really hard for me to enjoy lately. In the oddest sense, it feels like I don’t deserve to enjoy anything fun because I don’t have that perfect full-time job or amazing burst of inspiration to do something spectacular like write a whole book. I find that I’m tuned out most of the time and I don’t know how to plug back in.  

Life almost feels like it is at a standstill with everything that is out of my control and all of the waiting I’ve been doing lately; waiting for someone to return the book I need to the library, waiting in traffic, waiting to hear about whether or not I’m even going to get an interview for a job … The list of things I’m constantly waiting on could stretch the length of this blog post, so I’ll cut it short and instead offer you a glimpse into how both my thesis and research are regressing and progressing! 

How Do I Know When It’s Love?

Just like how Van Halen is on the cusp, but questioning, “When It’s Love,” I find myself looking at my thesis and wondering “how do I know I’m progressing and doing well?” I went the “conventional” route with the research and added my own spin by deciding to galvanize a field often forgotten about or left undiscovered, which would be the equivalent of putting my heart on the line. But, just like everything else I cherish lately, it’s been a rolling stone when I need something rock steady. I pulled myself through the introduction and literature review, and now I’m at a standstill with the methodology; there’s just no focus to it, and nothing to engage with, creating a situation somewhat similar to wondering whether it’s worth chasing down and going after. It’s a tangled web that temporarily hurts to look at or even think about, and I guess I’m going to have to revise my thesis timeline and give myself a few extra days until this upcoming Friday rather than Wednesday to get it where I want it to be. Most of the issue seems to be trying to justify the approach I’m taking with the case study by finding something similar or a researcher’s name to attach to the way I’m using a case study to validate my approach. But, I think that after running through the checklist, it’s nothing but love for forensic linguistics in my heart, and no matter how long it takes, I’ll get to where I need to be!

Dr. Zamora’s idea of creating chapters for my thesis is something that’s also going to help expedite the process and allow for greater exploration and explication of a very vast and complicated topic. Perhaps instead of puzzling over the methodology, I’ll dive into the content and then circle back around.

In the midst of this lover’s quarrel, I found that I needed to still work on something thesis-related, or else this odd feeling of guilt started creeping in. I figured if I couldn’t rationalize or organize my methodology section, maybe someone else could show me how, either by doing it, explaining it, or both. And that is how instead of revising anything I’ve written or trying to recalibrate my methodology section, I came up with a short story, the first to star Rem Shepard, the calm, fringe-bearing forensic linguist. (You’ve definitely spent too much time with me if you can figure out where this name came from.) Depending on how I feel, I might share it on my blog at some point in the future. In fact, maybe I could publish a few through the semester in a serial novel(la) format… I found that in writing creatively on something I’ve researched so thoroughly and so badly want to work with one day, there’s a palpable spirit to the piece, and the pacing and tone are similar to Robin Cook’s, one of my favorite medical fiction authors. 

Hopefully, Rem will make a public appearance before the semester ends under better circumstances than thesis stagnation, possibly even with a new name, and definitely with better writing. Now, onto my Research Days progress, which is far more compelling!

If You Change Your Mind, I’m The First In Line! 

Nothing cheers you up and keeps the Valentine’s Day mood alive quite like ABBA, and for someone trying something that’s trying to break into a field and contribute some fresh scholarship, “Take A Chance On Me,” is right on the money.

Before delving into the research like I thought I would, I figured that it made sense to see how I could pull off the mathematical aspect of the research design I outlined last week. The good news is that I retained most of my statistics knowledge and prowess, and I did pretty decently on some practice problems! But, it would be way too time-consuming and complicated to do all the math by hand, and if I follow through on my plan to poll as many Kean students, faculty, and staff as possible in a convenience sample, I’ll never make the March 25th submission deadline! I’m going to either have to take the time to make a lot of trips to the one computer lab equipped with SPSS on campus, figure out if Computer Services can somehow give me this software for free, pay for it myself, find an open-source tool, or scrap the math entirely. I’ll figure it out at some point this week. 

Beyond just crunching numbers and pointing out flaws, I started combing through some of the literature on the CSI effect, and it is looking pretty sparse! There were only a few academic articles that I was able to gain access to, and I’m still combing the electronic book database, but so far, it isn’t looking too extensive. So, it looks like the bulk of my paper is going to be some integration of that, but a strong use of the case study and content analysis approach yet again to highlight the difference between television versus reality in terms of investigation and policing. I’ve narrowed down my shows for comparison parameters based upon the factors of age, relevance, and popularity based upon Neilsen ratings, the duration of the series, and the relevance it will have to the audience reading my findings. Here’s a list of shows I’ll be working my way through:

  1. NYPD Blue 
  2. CSI Universe (Original + Reboot (CSI: Vegas) CSI: Miami, CSI: NY) 
  3. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit 
  4. Blue Bloods 
  5. Criminal Minds

Thankfully, I’ve seen most of these already, or at least parts. The goal of having this list isn’t to just pick out and watch a ton of television without feeling guilty, but to see what could possibly be shaping the perspective of others, and to help with creating an unbiased and informed survey. If I can get a handle on the different personalities, resources, and aspects that are connotated with investigation and evidence, then I can easily substantiate or disprove my claim, and explain the rationale more thoroughly.

Finally, on this front, I’m elated that as per Dr. Zamora, I can fold this research into my thesis as yet another chapter. Things can only move forward from here!

What More In The Name of Love?

There are few bands I love more than U2, and no song to better summarize what’s at stake going forward than “Pride (In the Name Of Love).” After all, isn’t that what is most at stake here? I have a litany of self-set and official deadlines, but that isn’t going to do much except generate stress and unhappiness. So, here’s a three date list:

  1. March 25th – Deadline to submit poster + pre-recorded presentation for Research Days; totally OK to work on this up to the last moment.
  2. April 10th – The date I hope to have all the parts of my thesis completed by, so I have a substantial amount of time to edit,
  3. May 5 – No matter what, I will submit my work on time! 

As for the feelings of helplessness and worry about not being on track or running out of time, there’s nothing else I can think of doing that could be more effective than speaking to a professional or the school’s counseling center and finding a healthy path forward. 

I Really Love The Things That You Do

It’s only fitting to share a sentiment of love if I’m posting on Valentine’s Day, and in such close proximity to our friend-a-versary. From the moment we met at eighteen, nothing about my life was ever the same. I never thought that I would ever get to feel what it was like to be loved unconditionally or have someone who even just the thought of could instantly get me to smile. There’s no one else whose messages I can read in exactly their voice, and picture clear as day what sort of face they made while typing. A million memories came to the surface of my mind just typing the above two sentences. Braiding your hair in the middle of class because we had both read ahead and weren’t missing anything. Relying on your dog in his infinite cuteness for serotonin. Waking up at seven in the morning to the tune of “Here Comes the Sun.” Asking you to wake me up for class earlier than that because I was scared I’d miss it, and having you just casually lean over me and go “Hey, wake up. You told me to wake you up.” Going to the dining hall at separate times and scaring the staff into thinking something was going on and we were on bad terms when it was just a schedule conflict. 

It means more than you’ll ever realize when you recognize a name when I’m ranting about the Riveters or Mets or the Devils, or remember who plays what position or how many skaters are on the ice because it means you were really listening to something that I care about, even if you don’t. I couldn’t imagine dancing around to old Disney soundtracks and meme songs with anyone else. Anything peach or peppermint scented instantly brings you to mind. There’s tremendous comfort in feeling like I’m getting a hug from you every time I pull one of the crewnecks you gave me on and grinning to myself every time I see what looks like one of your signature steel grey sweatshirts out in public. You’re the only person I’ll ever enjoy everyone always expecting to see with me, and vice versa. After all, I wouldn’t be who I am without being around you so often!

I find myself thinking about all the different ways we say I love you without actually saying the three words; pictures of your dog, memes of things we say throughout the day, sharing our snacks, strong hugs, building playlists for one another, leaving the desk lamp on when one of us wasn’t ready for bed, brushing our teeth together at night, sharing a textbook for class, avoiding the word specific, getting the other to try all sorts of tea, and spilling all the beans about weird nightmares where the other was the star. (I still laugh about the time I ran into the common area to make sure we were still friends after a weird break-up dream.) There’s all sorts of love, but nothing like the kind you share with someone you can look at and say, “You’re My Best Friend,” and have it mean so much. I don’t think there’s a way to fully capture the feeling, but I can say without a shadow of a doubt that you’re the Monica to my Joey, the elephant to my fox, the Chen to my DaCosta, and my drop in the ocean.

You’re forever in my heart, and you’ll always have the best of me. I love you, Jamie! 

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!