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Deadlines people, Deadlines

With the end of the semester quickly approaching, the deadlines gain a mountainous figure. A group project, research paper and a thesis proposal feel like tough fight to win. However, like you will see in my thesis, my father always told me that there is no “you will or you wont”. You’ll just do it and you’ll do it right. Now this may seem encouraging, but not so much when he’s teaching you how to drive and you’re trembling in fear on your first time behind the wheel.

Anyways, I find it hard to divide my time (and self) to everything on my plate. Lately, I find myself thinking that I could just do two classes instead of full time. I could potentially leave the second part of thesis to the fall, and give my self the spring and summer to fully dive into writing the bulk of my thesis. BUT MAMA AINT RAISE NO QUITTER. Though this wouldn’t be quitting more so allowing my self an extension. I am of the belief that diamonds are made under pressure AND to give myself more time to work also introduces the potential to procrastinate more. On we go onto the yellow brick road.

I’ve polished my proposal but still feel it needs more fine tuning. Thankfully, I haven’t looked at my literature review with a sterner lens or I would probably tear it to pieces and start from scratch. I’m glad that we have the option for One-on-One conferences. I need someone different eyes to look upon my work and see the cracks and flaws I cannot.

Session 13: Finished Proposal Draft!

As the title says, I’ve completed the draft for my proposal! During this week’s meeting time, I’m hoping to get some feedback so I know what needs to be changed before final submissions for the semester. I’m almost certain that my “Methods” section needs work; since my work is creative, not academic, I need some help explaining my research in a methodical, academic sense. I’ve done what I could, but I’m sure it can be “leveled-up,” so to speak.

The last parts of the proposal that I had to draft were the “Literature Review” section, where I discussed what I’d found in my research and identified what points Retrograde tackled that other YA fiction on the subject of queerness and religion missed, and the “Potential Outcomes” section. Here I talked about my goal to traditionally publish Retrograde, as this final paragraph shares:

I think that through traditional publication, Retrograde will be able to find its audience and reach those who need the story. As much as my research has informed how I write the characters in Retrograde, it also affirmed my belief that queer kids going to Catholic schools or otherwise growing up in Catholic environments need this book. They need to see a character who goes through struggles similar to theirs, to see that they’re not alone or wrong or disordered. I want to publish this book so it can wind up in the hands of the kids who need it most. I’m proud of my writing and its potential, but at the same time, I am remaining level-headed: I don’t need Retrograde to win awards or reach the tops of bestseller lists or anything like that. For my debut, I would truly be happy if people just enjoy the book and if it manages to make some amount of difference in their lives, even if that difference is simply bringing them a bit of joy, or hope, or changing the way they view things. These are effects that we may view as simple, but I’d argue that they have a large and lasting impact.

In a bit of a surprise, to myself, I also got a burst of inspiration to keep reading more YA novels to put into my annotated bibliography! Over the past week and a half, I’ve read two more, and I’m halfway through a third. I’d had most of these books for a while but hadn’t had the time or motivation to read them. Now, I found myself devouring them. I guess I’m often that way with reading…doing very little reading for a long stretch of time, and then in the course of a week getting consumed by books and reading in big bursts!

Another surprise: I’ve been continuing to work on the second draft. I’m not putting any pressure on myself about it; I’ve already said that I’m planning to finish my second draft over the break, not beforehand, as I’ve got a lot on my plate right now. All the reading, though, has really been inspiring me! I wrote out, longhand (rare for me) a big chunk of a new scene and even got the basic premise for another scene ready to go. This will give me a nice launching point once the break rolls around.

It’s The Final Countdown

December it what I always call the end of the semester rush. It’s literally the most wonderful and stressful time of the year. At the time being, I find myself tying up all loose ends and finishing all of my submissions. Not new updates to really update here other than I am working on my thesis proposal, and my final self-assessment narrative. I look forward to the one-on-one counseling next week to conclude any final thoughts and questions I have. I look forward to closing out this Fall Semester as I anticipate my final semester as a graduate student (eeeekkkkk!) Lots of look forward to, and lots to come. Stay tuned :p

Session 12: Writing the Proposal

Over the past week (and weekend), I’ve been working on developing my proposal for Retrograde. I’ll admit, I’d been nervous about this. I wasn’t sure how it was going to come together, and I thought I was going to struggle with it, especially the methodology section. But it really hasn’t been as hard as I thought! I actually sort of enjoyed writing out the “problem” that Retrograde was meant to solve; I think the justification I put together, after doing my research, is pretty meaningful. Here’s the last bit of that:

This project explores the topic of growing up queer and Catholic and examines how a youth might navigate such challenges, allowing real young queer people growing up in such an environment to see themselves in fiction and recognize that they are not alone, nor is there anything “wrong” or “intrinsically disordered” about them, despite what the Church may teach.

I also didn’t have as tough of a time with methodology as I was expecting. I’m eager, though, to talk about it more in our upcoming classes so I can make what I’ve written sound more “professional” and “official,” at any rate. I was able to mention a few methodologies, and I’ve aligned my research with narrative research:

All my research will help me to craft a compelling narrative in-line with real world experiences. This ties me to the tradition of narrative research, in which researchers examine how stories are told to understand how participants make sense of their experiences and use rich descriptions to tie together a sequence of events in hope of creating a cohesive narrative. Of course, my creation will be fictitious, but I will be weaving together elements of the real-world research and experiences that I have collected and analyzed throughout my research for this project.

Aside from refining the sections I already did, all I have left to add to the proposal is the “literature review” section, for which I am going to summarize my findings from my annotated bibliography and identify the gaps in the current writings on my topic, and the “potential outcomes” section, where I am going to talk about my desire to publish Retrograde. Overall, things are coming together quite well, and it hasn’t been nearly as much of a struggle as I feared it would be.

(On a side note, I hope the campus-wide Google Drive outage didn’t hamper anyone too much! I’ve now saved my thesis files such as the annotated bibliography and this proposal onto my laptop proper, as well as the work for all my other classes-in-progress, in case anything like that happens again. It was worrisome…I need to be able to access the finals I’m working on!)

The Roads That Lead Towards The End

As I started writing and developing my proposal, I started feeling drastically unmotivated to write or even read. Although I want to relate this to the brain rot caused by watching T.V. sitcoms (I recently started watching Young Sheldon) it’s most likely to due to the constant deconstruction and reconstruction of a healthy sleep schedule. This paragraph has nothing to do with my thesis progression, but I thought I’d make my situation a cautionary tale. Get your sleep. (and watch Young Sheldon its actually pretty funny)

First update!

Literature Review (completed?)

Since I always like to start with good news, I’m happy to inform everyone that my Literature review is completed. After careful consideration and reading, I condensed it from 18 sources to 16. Still within the requirement thankfully. However, I added a question mark to “completed” since I started wondering if in the second part of thesis I will be able to add sources to this literature review. What if, while writing, I use a term that needs clarifying? Am I adding that to my literature review or just throwing it to my work cited page? question for class I guess. Anyhow since class this week will be online, I will Link my Review here. I’ve allowed comments and encourage that both Dr. Zamora and my classmates to leave their thoughts and criticism.

Second Update

Thesis Proposal.

Initially and unsurprisingly, I wrote my proposal on paper and transferred it onto a Google Docs which can be found here. Even having done the research it was still difficult to convert it into a narrative form. I still only have a draft and it’s still a rough description of my thesis. The prior research section still needs to be edited and needs the articles I will be utilizing turned into narrative form. I feel as if this task will be easier to complete since I completed the literature review. All I have to do is put in the time. Personally, I believe the methodology part can also be developed further.

I’m looking forward to the comments of my peers and to Jasmines presentation. Also, here is a picture of my cat curled up and sleeping on my bed to brighten your day.

What’s the Method?

This week, taking a break from my literature review I drafted up my methodology section for my proposal. Using the guidelines I put together what I have below, hopefully it is okay. Looking forward to feedback on Tuesday’s night class:

For my thesis project, Dr. Zamora recommended employing the autoethnography methodology, a qualitative research approach favored by scholars interested in vividly describing and evoking the intricate tapestry of lived experiences. Autoethnography aims to weave compelling narratives that illuminate specific phenomena encountered in the research setting. When applied to a memoir study, this methodology facilitates a nuanced understanding of the author’s experiences, emotions, and the cultural influences shaping the narrative. Incorporating insights from literature reviews, encompassing works ranging from Emily Ratajkowski’s writings to Sylvia Plath, my scholarly and writer influences play a pivotal role in shaping my own work. These influences guide me as I curate and compose vignettes that collectively narrate my women’s experiences. In alignment with the autoethnography methodology, my reflections on personal experiences and motivations associated with exploring the theme of womanhood form a crucial foundation for my thesis. By infusing emotions linked to pivotal events and considering their intersection with the narrative and my personal identity, I establish a meaningful connection between this research methodology and my thesis. Autoethnography enables a harmonious integration of my personal experiences with relevant literature and theories. Delving into how scholars, writers, and researchers have approached similar themes related to my topic has proven invaluable. This exploration serves to position my memoir within the broader context of existing academic discourse, fostering a more profound engagement with the subject matter.

AHHHHHH

So lately I feel as if I have been Lagging behind my due dates. With the assignments of my other classes, getting sick last week, and a mental block that seemed impossible to overcome. Life, academically speaking, seemed to be a stagnating. It’s difficult not to be hard on myself during these times. However, I’m overjoyed to report that I’m getting the academic ball rolling again, despite its colossal size.

So lately I’ve been adding sources to my Lit Review that are based upon masculinity and in Latino communities. Which is great and very important to my thesis. But if we recall my presentation the one gap I was missing in my research was mental health in the Latino community. Since I was gathering other important sources I regrettably neglected this requirement. It’s strange to say but it wasn’t a bad neglect; I was gathering other important resources.

I have found two very important sources that deals with this issue directly. The first one is Urban Latinx Parents’ Attitudes towards Mental Health: Mental Health Literacy and Service Use by Louise E.Dixon De Silva et. al and the second one is Latino Mental Health And Treatment In The United States by Marilyn Aguirre-Molina et al. The latter is the seventh chapter of the book Health Issues in the Latino Community a book completely dedicated, as the title eludes, to the health issues in the Latino community AND this chapter speaks only on the Mental health aspects of those health issues.

The findings from recent studies suggest that Latinos such as
Mexicans, Cubans, and Puerto Ricans generally immigrate or migrate with superior mental health status compared to the that of the population of the United States as a whole. Over time they have increased risk of mental health problems. Even more disturbing, their offspring’s major depression rates may increase to or exceed normal population rates for the United States.

(Aguirre-Molina et al. 182)

What a wonderful quote that clarifies the mental journey that I’ve unwillingly embarked on. The authors of this chapter even clarify that the Latino community is extremely diverse and more research data is needed for the smaller communities. This is why they focus on the data they have which is mainly Mexican, Cuban and Puerto Rican populations. Another important thing they mention that I haven’t seen mentioned before is the “cultural barriers” that prevent Latinos from utilizing mental health services. This includes stigma and the distinctive expressions for emotional disorders. The example given was “ataque de nervios” (attacks of the nerves). An idiom labeling mental illness symptoms as “temporary emotional reactions, these beliefs may obstruct an individual and his or her significant others from recognizing symptoms of mental illness” (Aguirre-Molina et al. 196).

The other article Urban Latinx Parents’ Attitudes towards Mental Health: Mental Health Literacy and Service Use by Louise E.Dixon De Silva et. al is a short study but has a plethora of important information. It speaks on the stigma surrounding the Latino community, accepting internalized mental health problems, and utilizing mental health services

Generally, parents viewed their child’s worry or sadness as intertwined with other problems that they were having…. Findings revealed that parents often could not distinguish between symptoms of anxiety, depression, and behavior problems. The most commonly described child problems were nervousness/worry (inquieto, ansioso), sadness (tristeza), withdrawal (retirarse), and irritability (irritabilidad)

(De Silva 3)

Though the sample size is relatively small and the limitations that the researcher elucidate are valid, this study still brings an extremely important cultural barrier to the table. Only when things are drastic are they taken care of, and even when they are drastic they’re labeledー as the previous mentioned study claimsー as simple attacks of the nerves.
While reading this study I got, as the youths like to say, war flashbacks. When reading certain lines I had to stop cause the words hit close to home. Ill throw out a few lines that did this.

  • “Furthermore, parents identified the belief that anxiety and depression are not “real” problems” (De Silva 4)
  • “after 6 sessions, I’m like “Honey, like, so like how did she teach you? What did she-?” Because I’m still seeing you doing this. Like she was still doing the same like anxiety um, like methods, so I’m like I was getting frustrated” (De Silva 5)
  • that Latinx parents, such as those in our sample, may tend to focus on outwardly visible behaviors while more internal mood states are overlooked (De Silva 6)
  • Concerns about parental blame, stigma, and etiological explanations of mental illness (e.g., problems stem from poor discipline) are all factors that deter appropriate service use and treatment adherence in Latinx communities

The quote I’ve bolded was one that I had a verbal reaction to when reading because I’ve had this line thrown at me. I briefly attended a master program that I dropped out of at Montclair University. While I was there I made use of their Counseling and Psychological services (CAPS) If I recall correctly, and I do, it was around 23 sessions throughout two semesters. Towards the last session my mother asked me to tell her how long were the sessions and how many id been to. After I told her she tallied it all up and said “that’s almost 24 hours. Aren’t you over it by now”

ANYWAYS, I think I’m done (for the most part) gathering sources. The 19 that I have are sufficient enough to provide good background support. I’ve complied them all into one document and have started the literature review. I’m honestly glad I took Research and methodology prior to this. This literature review doesn’t seem so terrifying, (its still a tad intimidating but not terrifying). At the same time I cant help to feel as if I’m falling behind. anywhoooooo see y’all in class. I cant wait for Jasmines presentation.

Lit Review Done?

I think as of now, I’ve made a lot of progress. I do think my lit review is done (for now) since the semester is coming to a close and I do now have to work on putting my proposal together. For the lit review I followed the same format that I used in Dr. Nelson’s class last semester. I assume that is the same format I will use when it comes to submitting the entire proposal?

I did take a small break on writing the vignettes/essays. I plan on utilizing my winter break time to kind of get back in touch, focus, and write some more again. If I write anything right now, I feel like it will come off forced and therefore it won’t be as organic or as good as I want it to be. I wouldn’t say it’s a writers block, but I do have a block as of right now because of the end of the semester rush, and of course because of work. But I will get back to it, just need to find that right time again. I am constantly utilizing my notes app to write down ideas or writing that comes to my mind late at night or after driving. Can’t wait to get back to that part again.

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…