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Session 11: Short Rest

I hope everyone had a nice break! I know I did. I did some very important work during it…which was doing no (school) work at all! I spent time cooking, eating, hanging out with family, and shopping, trying to not even think about classes at all. I usually have a hard time letting myself relax; whenever I have some free time, in the back of my head I’m usually telling myself “oh, I should be working on something during this time…” and so even when I’m doing something that’s not work, like playing a video game or reading for pleasure, I’m still thinking about work. It’s hard to relax like that…luckily, over this break, I didn’t have much of that problem. I gave myself permission to completely rest and focus on doing things that I wanted to do to relax and recharge.

This week, I’m going to start work on my proposal. I’m hoping that the break was refreshing enough to let me really push through these last few weeks of the semester without feeling too overwhelmed or stressed.

So yeah, welcome back everyone, I hope you got to rest and I hope you enjoyed your holiday!

What if?

This past week I’ve sat with the feedback and advice given to me last week after my presentation. It really forced me to sit with everything I was trying to avoid because it was too messy in my mind. But, who knew? Facing the problem actually fixes it! Kind of…

First, thank you all for the advice & words of encouragement, I appreciate it, truly 🙂 Second, I was looking into the graphic novels G recommended and :O! Great works to say the least. I absolutely loved the illustrations and how they seamlessly fit into the written story. I also thought of the content of the photos I shared and how Dr. Zamora pointed out that they tell stories on their own. So, what if, I could create scenes with these photos and write my personal essays through them?

Then, the layout of it all would be like that of a graphic novel with a scrapbook aesthetic. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I literally googled “graphic novel in scrapbook form” and was pleasantly surprised to see The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt and a YouTube video previewing some pages in it. I can easily see my words and photos in a similar format and I think it’s a great reference point. Now, how do I make that?

Luckily, I have pretty reliable resources who would be delighted to teach me a little Adobe InDesign, and help me with it as well. I need to investigate to see if audio and video would be a possibility though. If not, I think I can live without it. Still, I hope I can find a way and I’ll try to find a similar platform before I give it up entirely.

Anyway , this week was extremely helpful and relieving. It definitely gives me peace of mind that the visual side of it is getting settled in my head and it’s really exciting to actually start envisioning an end product I can be really proud of.

This week, and most of the coming weeks, MUST be dedicated to the lit review. I have many resources and I can see purpose in all of them but, now I have to throw some out and figure out what exactly I need from my resources to create something cohesive – a daunting task I oddly look forward to…

Session 10: (Almost!) Time for a Break

I’m happy to report that I’ve been slowly but surely moving past my writer’s block! I’ve worked on writing Retrograde several days in the past week, and even when I’m not actively putting words down on the Scrivener doc, I’m getting ideas for where to go next. I wouldn’t say I know where I’m going next, not quite, I haven’t really solved my whole “stuck with the plot issue,” but I’m getting there. And as I suspected, it’s by writing and trying stuff and making a mess that I’m getting ideas and figuring out what to do next.

After Thanksgiving break, I’m going to dive into developing my proposal. I’ll admit, I’m a bit unsure about how to adapt some of the proposal guidelines (methodology?) for a creative project, but I’m sure that’s something we can discuss in class.

During the break itself, I’m going to be pretty busy with family stuff, so I’ll probably not do much thesis work or other class work; I’m trying to give myself some time to recharge. Though who knows, I might write some more of the second draft, if inspiration strikes.

I’ll see everyone tonight, and I hope you all have a nice and restful break!

Update People Updates

It is 4:30 am as I’m writing this, me and my family are packed into my mothers Nissan rogue with my grandma’s several suitcases, packed with gifts for my family members back home. I am filled with pain and worry since this may be my last seeing my grandma in person. As I was driving her to my aunt’s house she told me that she doesn’t think she can make another trip to the US. Time has taken its its toll on her, as it will on all of us.(her words not mine). This is not the first time I’ve had to do this, I recall her first visit here in 2018, that departure was the hardest. My mother after not being able to hug her mother for 19 years was saying goodbye once again. It was a moment filled with a somber love. I hated seeing her like this, feeling so much sadness and yearning and love all at the same time. I found myself comforting her more than I’ve ever done so. As unbelievable as it seems, I’m usually a more reserved and distant person when it comes to either showing emotion. I’m of the belief that when people are sad, they need space and time to heal. At least that’s what I need. However, seeing my mother that way hurt, I held her, kissed her head and reassured her this wouldn’t be the last time we see her. I’m not sure I can do that this time. 

Having my grandma visit always brings up mixed feeling for me. For one, it reminds me how separated my family is here in the US. Yesterday I saw my maternal aunt for the first time in 5 years. We cut off communication with her for reasons that seem so insignificant in retrospect. It boils down to a sibling jealousy, rivalry, and ill-will that’s far older than me. She hugged me and we pretended that our families aren’t currently not on speaking terms. She didn’t know I wasn’t working at DHL anymore, or that I’m a semester (and a summer course) away from getting my masters. I like keeping things close to the chest and my family respects that.
Another thing her visits makes me think about is the struggle in her life. Having 9 children with a man who had four other families that he abandoned. (I’ll speak about my maternal grandfather another time. its a doozy). Only three surviving to adulthood: Colón, Johnny Angela, Celeste, Erick, Mary-Lou. (EXTRA POINTS ON THE QUIZ IF YOU CAN GUESS WHICH NAME IS MY MOM) Having to take care of her disabled daughter for 50 plus years, along side her three grand daughters: Erika-Belen (13) Samantha (8) and Aisha (7). When will this woman get a break. I fear the only rest will be in death as morbid as that sounds, but that’s a bigger fear: The impact her absences will have on all of us.

Okay, wipe the metaphorical tears, lets get academic.
Last post I mentioned that I had to review the articles I gathered that were based on masculinity. Having found a total of seven I read them and decided that four had the necessary substance I need for my own thesis. These are:

  • Factors Influencing Masculinity Ideology among Latino Men by Pedro Saez, Adonaid Casado, Jay Wade
  • First-Generation Latino Men’s Perceptions of Masculinity During Their Higher Education Experience by Moises Alvarado Garcia,
  • More Than Muscles, Money, or Machismo Latino Men and the Stewardship of Masculinity by Andrew S. Walters & Ivan Valenzuela
  • Machismo and Caballerismo Linked with Perceived Social Discrimination and Powerlessness in U.S. Latino Men by Helen M. Hendy, S. Hakan Can ,and Hartmut Heep

However, the other three sources will not go to waste. I plan on scouring their references in order to make some use of them. Adding these into my literature review I now have 18 sources. Since I have all my sources separated into folders on Google Drive, its hard to see the work I’ve put into my thesis. However, taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

Session 9: Slaying the Dragon!

Well, I’m happy to say that the rough draft of my literature review is finally done. I say “rough draft” because there’s still the potential that I’m going to add more to it in the coming weeks, as it’s a working document and all, but I’ve got down all of the research pieces I have so far and my thoughts on them/their relevance to Retrograde. This is a huge weight off of my shoulders; I’ve felt swamped with work across all my classes lately; even though I’m completely up-to-date with all of my work and have been throughout the semester, my brain still manages to make me feel like I’m behind. Getting something as big as the lit review “done” frees up a lot of mental space to focus on other things, like thinking about my proposal draft and working on finishing this second draft.

Speaking of the second draft…agh. I’m having some major writer’s block still. I’ve gotten a few more scenes written, but right now I find myself mostly stuck as I try to figure out how I want to move this plot forward. It’s frustrating, and it feels a bit like I’ve hit a brick wall. Plot has always been a weakness of mine…it’s why I’ve dedicated this entire draft to revising and strengthening that aspect of the story. I’ve taken out an arc of the plot near the end, because it ultimately wasn’t strongly connected enough to Mercury’s actions and wasn’t showing the cause-and-effect that carries strong stories…but I’m having a really tough time replacing it. I don’t know what new, better arc to put in its place…it’s one of those things that I’m probably only going to be able to figure out by writing a bunch of words, trying out a bunch of things, and then discarding most of it and keeping that one kernel that works.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to write a lot when the words don’t want to flow at all.

But I’m not all doom and gloom! Like I said, I’m happy to have the lit review done for the time being, and even if it’s hard, I am sitting down and working on this draft. I know it will get done…it’s just hard to see the end of the road from here, where I’m waylaid at the side with a flat tire.

Starting My Literature Review!

Last week I took the time to finalize my outline. It’s still in a rough phase but this is my second time reviewing it. I feel it is good enough for me to start working on the Literature review now and figuring out how to piece this all together. Last semester in 5002 we worked on a Literature for our research proposal and I will be takin that approach as I am comfortable and familiar.

This week I am going to start working on my introduction section and really get a good strong thesis statement solidified. My main focuses with is thesis will be the integration of technology into early childhood education and the improvement of tech tools being used as well. this gives my research so clarity, but still keeps my main topics open to many sources I can choose from.

I have confirmed 5 solid sources that I can put into my annotated bibliography to start the process on that piece of the literature review. I have about 25 sources all together to sort through, and see what I would still need to to gather. I want to do that this week along with my introduction and the start of the annotated bibliography an keep me in a rhythm if I can do about 3-4 sources a week.

Overall I am very confident in the work I plan to present in this literature review and feel I just need to now start. the writing to allow my self enough time to thoroughly edit my work and really get the key details fully expressed. This process has been a but easier than I thought it would be as I have really taken time to get into my work and have used the 5 hour a week method of working on my thesis work. The biggest issue I am noticing is organization of the sources but I feel I will eliminate this as I start the annotated bibliography and I can have my sources in one place to refer to and access. I am excited to see my final result and how this work all comes together.

Pick Up Week

Spent this week starting to organize my literature review, and looking closely at my strategy of achieving my thesis goal. Picked up more information during this week from different articles, but I am seeing how intense it can get with organizing the work you find and the places you want to be able to go back for reference. Really seeing how detailed this work will be is helping me to extra organized in my work.

I have began writing blog post in my words document on my computer so I’m rushing to have content once I pick the platform I want to use to show my work. I want that to be decided by the end of this semester so over the winter break I am Abel to start posting and creating content more consistently, with any media form I choose. A lot will be writing and just expressing the important aspects of technology in early childhood education and parenting. The coming of the education and parenting communities is what my blog will focus on with a specific focus on technology and different aspects in their realm.

Overall feeling very confident in the work that I am producing and I do see how I am able to find so much information on my topic and I am starting to find new things that spark interest to me, or I have heard nothing about. Deciding which information to keep and focus on is very relaxed due to the idea I am presenting. There are so many sub categories to touch upon and I want to chose those that most interest me. I am narrowing those down which will be how I will be presenting my literature review.

Adding Sources on Masculinity

Yesterday during breakfast I overheard a conversation my parents were having with my grandma. They were talking about the relationship dynamic of my Aunt and Uncle. We’ve cut off communication with them to the point that I’ve haven’t thought about them in years. I can’t even recall the last time I spoke to them, about them, or even thought about them. However, this conversation made me think about all the male figures I’ve had in my life.

Identity does not emerge in a vacuum. Its molded by everything around us. With this thought in mind, I thought about adding the role of masculinity, toxic and nontoxic, into my thesis. It’s a thought that had not come up until I heard this conversation. It’s one of these ideas that I knew would arise when I dove deeper into my work. In thoroughly thinking about it, I cannot say that my own father consciously instilled toxic masculinity in me. He always told me that its my role as a brother and a man to protect the women in my life. That its my responsibility to keep them safe from the cruelties of the world. That is what being a man is to him and what he taught me. HOWEVER, as developing children we are not only influenced by what we’re taught but also what we see.

Growing up, one of the things that would infuriate me was that he expected to be served at the dinner table. (I saw my uncle expecting this too) It irritated me because my mom (and aunt) would come home from work, cook, clean, and would still be expected to serve them. So during the beginning of my adolescence, one of the things I began to do things for myself would be to serve my own food, grab my own set of cutlery, and pick my own plates and cups and I still do to this day. It’s reached a point to where my mom mentions this to everyone who notices it. By everyone I mean the guests we would host from Ecuador. This is a task, a role “meant” for the daughter or mother of the family. But to leave this task to a woman who just spent ten hours on her feet working felt intrinsically wrong. There is a word in Spanish for a man who does nothing and is expected to be catered to, its Mantenido. Its literal translation means to be kept or to maintain, but it has a derogatory meaning as well. Its to be a freeloader or parasite or a good for nothing. This forum goes into detail about all the ways it can be used.

This word has been used by my mom as a counter to the toxic masculinity of Hispanic culture. No seas un hombre mantenido, don’t be a kept man. My mother has worked tirelessly to make me combat this culture, to be come a caballero, a gentleman. Growing up I took it a bit further by helping her in the one thing she hates to do, cook. She’s constantly told us that she hates to cook, hates the process, hates how everything comes out, her food doesn’t taste right etc. But being in this culture that expects her to cook and feed her family, she’s stuck doing it. I believe I found so much joy in cooking because I got satisfaction in helping her. I love to cook, to me there’s an insurmountable joy in feeding people, my friends, my family, my partners. I’ve mentioned in some of my classes that I’m the one who cooks for thanksgiving (all recipes inherited from my mom). I love it for the fact that the reward is visible. The happy faces and full bellies of my family. <3. Right back to toxic masculinity…

In their dissertation Garcia Alvarado and Alejandro Moises explain masculinity and hyper-masculinity.

“Hyper-masculinization is perpetuated and upheld by modern-day patriarchal systems where Latino men live. The social construct of machismo came with a set of gendered norms, constituting society’s perception of manly behaviors, which included, among others, the following: never show emotions, weakness, or any need for support; instead, one should portray the ability to be self-reliant

Alvarado Garcia, Moises A. First-Generation Latino Men’s Perceptions of Masculinity During Their Higher Education Experience, University of California, San Diego, United States — California, 2022.

Here is where I want to talk about the unconscious implementation of toxic masculinity. Never showing emotions, or the need for support. These are the main attributes I saw in my father. I can count the amount of times I’ve seen my father cry on one hand. (spoiler its 2) Once was when their golden child, me (I’m saying me sarcastically) was caught smoking marijuana and the other time when my uncle (fathers brother) and my great-aunt tragically passed away in a car accident in Ecuador. I remember these days vividly, they are branded into my mind, soul and being. In a similar fashion, I’ve only cried a handful of times with them being present. A result of becoming a withdrawn child which I mentioned in my presentation.

The other attribute, the need for support, I’ve only witnessed with the conversations I’ve had with my mom. These private conversations that we have are our connection. Since my withdrawn nature was/is seen as a sign of maturity, my family takes heed to my words. They see me as a calm headed person who thinks before he speaks or acts. (Disclaimer: I don’t believe this would be the case if my sister wasn’t so outspoken. Quite literally the opposite of me.) So during these conversation my mom would disclose the stubbornness of my father and his refusal to ask her for help, monetarily or otherwise. These conversation make me recognize my own aversion to ask for help. Unconsciously emulating my father.

Now that the trauma dump is out, we can get back to the academic part of this blog post. I’ve currently gathered 7 sources based on the effects of masculinity, hyper-masculinity, and toxic masculinity in the Latino community. All with great information and references that are beneficial for the completion of my literature review. I have to read them more thoroughly and discard the ones that will not be as useful. I anticipate that after this I will be left with 4 or 5 beneficial sources.

That’s all I have to report for this week.

Not Much Static

I don’t have much to talk about this week, because there isn’t much static now. From last weeks post I’ve been centering around my thesis around those themes. I am working on my literature review now and just siting down, collecting, and writing. I present next Tuesday (11/14). So I will also be working on that over this week and weekend. I am excited to share what I have, read a bit, and just really give a glimpse of what my thesis will be about.

Gears Are Grinding

Organizing this has been an absolute nightmare. I took note of Erik’s method of categorizing my research articles (great job bestie!), but I quickly found it wasn’t too effective in my case.

I tried to categorize the articles by Personal, Historical and Social but I think the articles just fell into every category. The one commonality they shared in every article is the importance of understanding the lived experiences of refugees through the socio-historical context of their origin country.

At the core of my thesis is identity and parts of my identity that I’ve chosen to forget. The idea of internal versus external influences on my identity came up too. By internal influences, I mean the influence that my family and close friends have had on my identity. By external influences, I mean the socio-historical context I am living through and its influence on my identity.

Going back to the articles, their purpose is to help me better understand what my family has lived through and how it may affect me but also to understand the general social climate of it all. The trip I plan to take is also meant to do that for me. I’ve been looking into specific museums, one being Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen, which will give me a visual look into what my family has endured. I’m also interested because my parents have never been to the museums in San Salvador and I think, my mom especially, will be intrigued. That is an experience that I’m excited to document since it’ll be like my two worlds colliding.

Then, I thought – what if I tried to envision the actual pieces I’m going to write in categories? How do I want them to be broken up and what kind of narrative do I want to follow? Linear or non-linear? I mentioned doing something like we did in E-Lit and I’m still really intrigued to do that because of the different forms of media I want to include. If that’s the case, it’ll most likely be non-linear and I think this just leaves more room for me to play around with the aesthetics of the piece.

This has been a mess of a blog, but it’s just an accurate representation of how non-linear my thinking has been in terms of organization. I really think the internal versus external idea might lead me somewhere I like and I plan to move forward in that direction. In the coming weeks, I’d like to start looking at old writings and focus on those to see if I can edit anything or grab inspiration from them. I’m itching to start the writing process, but I want to make sure I know what direction I stick with.

This was in my journal and lead me to the idea