December 24th, 2010

Final Blog – Bye Bye

I never really thought what I was going to write for my final blog. I knew that time was ticking and as usual I have waited for the last minute to write it. I don’t have a particular order in which I’m writing this final blog but I am going to start from the very beginning. As a transfer student from QueensBorough Community College, I was very lost in what steps I needed to take to register. My major was Early Childhood Education and to my surprise I needed to choose a co-major. I was never told before transferring that a co-major was needed for my Education degree so I was confused. To top it off, I needed to choose a co-major right there and then. It was hard to choose what my 2nd major would be since it took me a while deciding Education as my major a couple of years ago. Since it was the last day for registering ( yes that’s me again waiting for the last minute ) I decided to chose English since I have a huge library in my room and can also become an English teacher in the future.

I was a bit hesitant for this English Class 255 since it’s class description is scary: A historical study of the diversity of modern and contemporary Anglophone literature. Modern writing translated into English encompassing the complex transnational and post colonial nature of much modern writing in English. Honestly, do you understand what this class could be about? I didn’t know and was preparing myself for a very boring class. To my surprise, the class was not boring at all. It was very different which I loved! The liberty we had in using a blog and being able to express ourselves was very liberating for me. I had another English class in which I was very excited about but it turned out to be a bore. Unlike this class, we had to write papers constantly on why a specific story/poem were meaningful. I didn’t like that we weren’t able to express our opinions in the readings which is why I enjoyed English 255 because even if we hated the reading or loved it, if we explained our opinion, we received a good grade.

One thing that didn’t work for me in this class were some of the readings. I honestly enjoyed the 2nd half of the semester more then the beginning because of the books being used. As I have noticed, during the first half of the semester I only wrote 2,400 words on my blog and in the final half of the semester I wrote a whooping 7,500 words. Now that’s a big difference. 

The readings that killed it for me at the beginning the class were T.S. Elliot’s The Love Songand The Waste Land. Till this day I still hate T.S. Elliot. He is one of those writers that you will have your head spinning trying to figure out where is he going with this. I was so glad that after T.S. Elliot’s, Hemingway came to the rescue. Not one of my favorites (Yes, I know it’s Hemingway but I can’t force myself to love him) but a passable one. Now, the second half of the semester had so many of my favorites reads. From all the readings I have to say that my two favorites were William Faulkner’s The Sound and The Furyand of course Junot Diaz’s Drown. Two very different types of literature (vintage vs modern) but what great reads. Many people in the class hated The Sound and The Furybut I was one of the few that enjoyed Faulkner’s way of writing, especially his way of thinking. Wish the ending didn’t keep me with many unanswered questions though. Now, Junot Diaz’s everyone enjoyed. His style was different and the way he wrote Drown was just amazing. 2nd time I read this book and still loved it.

In my opinion English 255 should stay as being Global Literature in English. As the definition states : contemporary writing from the many cultures of the world. Selections include literature ascribed to various religious, ideological and ethnic groups within or across geographical boundaries. Being able to read from different writers such as Maxine Hong Kingston and Junot Diaz gave us the opportunity to see different cultures and how many grew up with different beliefs then what we grew up with. We even read about Barack Obama’s life, which gave me an insight of who our President is. English 255 can also become 20th Century Canon but that would not  make the class as open minded in readings  as the Global Literature class. The fact that we would only have to read from a list of books someone else picked is not fair. What if we don’t have the same taste in literature as the people who made the list? I prefer the more open-minded way then just following a standard list.

Ones suggestion that I would have loved to experience during this class is the ability to read a book that I chose. Since the classwork was all based on our blogs, the opportunity to choose a book and write about it would have been fun.  We would be able to expand our reading selection and if we liked what the others were writing  about in their blogs , maybe we would want to read their book choice as well. Maybe as a last reading for the class? It would have been fun 🙂

Overall, English 255 was a fun class. Very unique and entertaining. It introduced me to many new authors that I have never heard about and great readings from authors I have come across with before. Some of the selections of the readings were typical for an English class, but the opportunity of reading from different writers such as Junot Diaz and Marjane Satrapi made this class extra special. Why can’t other English classes be as open-minded with new literature then just keeping it to the classics? For a reason I know they are classics but still, it gets a bit boring having to only read old works of literature. Hopefully that’ll change soon 🙂

December 9th, 2010

A Song For A Barbarian Reed Pipe

I really enjoyed this section just really felt bad for Maxine. Imagine being told from her mother that she cut her tongue, “She pushed up my tongue up and sliced the frenum. Or maybe she snipped it with a pair of nail scissors. I don’t remember her doing it, only her telling me about it. ” (164) And for the reason is just ridiculous, “I cut it so you won’t be tongue tied / You’ll be able to speak (other) languages”(164). That’s why when asked if Maxine is going through madness or silence, I believe its both.

Throughout the chapter, Maxine talks about her life from early childhood to adulthood. In her early life, Maxine seemed to be very silent, “when I went to Kindergarten an had to speak English for the first time, I became silent” (165). At first I thought  it could of been because she didn’t feel comfortable with the language and became shy but she then mentioned that many other Chinese girls were just like her, silent.

I think her madness started once she began hating the other VERY quiet chinese girl. There was a sense of competition with her since Maxine hated that they were always picked last at the same time, “I hated her when she was the last chosen for her team and I, the last chosen for my team.” (173)

It could have been competition that maybe Maxine wanted to be known as the quietest girl in school or maybe she was just jealous of the girl because she was pampered and didn’t have to work like Maxine did. I don’t know what the reason could have been that made her torture the other girl but she did it regardless of the consequences, “I reached up (she was taller than I) and took a strand of hair. I pulled it. ‘Well, then, let’s honk your hair,’ I said. ‘Honk. Honk.’ Then I pulled the other side –‘ho-o-n-nk’- a long pull; ‘ho-o-n-n-nk’- a longer pull. I could see her little white ears, like white cutworms curled underneath the hair. ‘Talk!’ I yelled into each cutworm. “ (177)

Maxine also started seeing things in her mind. Not only did she have nightmares but talking to people in her imagination, “I thought every house had to have its crazy woman or crazy girl, every village its idiot. Who would be It at our house? Probably me.” (189) I think all her life experiences with her mother and the way she treated her is a reason for her madness. When Maxine decided to tell her mother about the list of over two hundred things she has done, her mother didn’t seem to care, “I don’t feel like hearing your craziness.” (200)

That’s when Maxine finally exploded : (201-202)

“You think you can give us away to freaks”

 ” I can make a living and take care of myself”

” I am not going to be a slave or a wife”

” I cant stand living here anymore”

” I don’t want to listen to any more of your stories ; they have no logic”

” you lie with your stories”

And my favorite :

” Ha! You can’t stop me from talking. You tried to cut off my tongue. but it didn’t work”

I felt that Maxine had all these things stored inside her that when there was no more space, she finally exploded. Her mom of course didn’t take it well and Maxine had to leave. It worked as a learning experience for Maxine as she mentioned, ” Be careful what you say. It comes true.” She was able to learn about the real world after that and as seen in Shaman she was able to make peace with her mother, “Goodnight, Little Dog.” (109)

December 7th, 2010

Shaman and At the Western Palace

Blog : comment on the enormous difference in Maxine’s mother in these two sections?

In these two sections I consider Maxine’s mother to be very independent in her way of thinking and beliefs in women’s rights. Independent in Shaman and women’s rights in At the Wester Palace. The two stories were very different from each other and very different from the first two stories as well, No Name Women and White Tiger. First two stories had alot to do with the traditions and how a women should behave.

In Shaman, Kingston’s mother Brave Orchid talks about her younger life. She tells Kingston on how she used her husbands money to go to Keung School of Midwifery, since her first two children died. It isn’t quite confirmed if she did have two children before Kingston because at the end she contradicts herself and tells Kingston she was her first born. In school she becomes known as one of the brilliant students in her class and finishes school with a career as a midwife. Not only a career but she also became know as a Shaman since she fought and destroyed ghosts.

*shaman – messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds.

At times I felt as if Kingston had a sense of pride for her mother. She didn’t have a traditional way of living but had a career going for herself. And then when her mother mentions about her buying a slave nurse and saying on how she had to pay $200 to birth Kingston, she felt a bit ashamed or embarrassed? Not sure of the feeling, but I definitely know it wasn’t pride.

After being a midwive, Brave Orchid comes to America to be with her husband. But instead of having a career for her own, she works in a laundromat and in a tomato field. Its a different world for her and by the way she describes herself working harder and aging faster, it seems she hates it in America. Maybe that’s why she might not be that close to her daughter as seen in the other stories. She came to America like every other parent to give their children a better life but at the same time their own life is being sacrificed.

In At the Western Palace, Brave Orchid shows her independent side as well as her women’s right attitude when her sister Moon Orchid comes to stay with her. Moon got married with her husband in China before he came to “The Gold Mountain.” Although he sends her money, she finds out that he has another wife and three children here in America. Brave Orchid tells Moon to confront her husband and claim her right as his wife, but she is to timid and embarrassed to see him.

“He’s living in Los Angeles with his second wife, and they have three children. Claim your rights. Those are your children. He’s got two sons. You take them away from her. You becomes their mother.”

When Brave Orchid finally makes Moon confront her husband, he tells her he wants nothing to do with her. Embarrassed from what happened, Moon starts to get a bit crazy. She says she sees Mexican Ghosts who want to kill her. She is then taken to a mental asylum where she ends up dieing. Unlike Brave Orchid and her way of thinking, Moon was the complete opposite. Having her husband in America, she didn’t take the money he send her to make a career of her own. She didn’t know how to do basic household chores meaning she had servants and when she came to the US I guess she noticed that she really didn’t have a life of her own. The difference between these two women showed me that although Brave Orchid is hard on Kingston, it could be for a reason. Maybe she doesn’t want her daughter to be dependent of her but be independent and care for her own because you never know what life may bring.

December 6th, 2010

No Name Woman and White Tigers

Another great read so far :). I knew this book was going to be interesting because just like Drown by Junot Diaz, it is made up of short stories. Both No Name Women and White Tigers were very enjoyable and showed me a part of Maxine’s life that was very insightful. She is a women warrior not like Fa Mu Lan but a warrior battling with herself, her culture and being a women.

In No Name Women, Maxine is told about her aunt who killed herself and her new born baby because she had the baby out of wedlock. It was a story told to Maxine when she began to menstruate to scare her of bringing disgrace to her family. Her aunt is referred to as no name women. The family don’t really like to talk about her since they decided to pretend she had never been born. In this chapter I noticed that Maxine was battling against her family’s Chinese culture. Although her family was disgraced by no name women, Maxine tries to make excuses for her aunt’s doing, “My aunt could not have been the lone romantic who gave up everything for sex. Women in the old China did not choose. Some man had commanded her to lie with him and be his secret evil.”(6)

White Tigers was the chapter, that really showed Maxine struggling with her American life and her family’s Chinese beliefs. In China, Girls weren’t considered important to the family. They weren’t respected and were treated very unfairly, “There’s no profit in raising girls. Better to raise geese than girls.”(46) Since they were married off and didn’t contribute anything to the family, they were set aside, “when you raise girls, you’re raising children for strangers.”(46) Even Though Maxine came to America and studied in Berkeley, she was still haunted from her family’s Chinese beliefs, “I went to college – Berkeley in the sixties – and I studied, and I marched to change the world, but I did not turn into a boy.”(47)

The struggles that Maxine went through while living in China and America did make her a warrior in her own way. She struggled for acceptance in her family and eventhough they still didn’t see her as the straight A student she was, Maxine still kept on going like a warrior.

December 6th, 2010

Dreams From my Father – Political Yes!

Yes Yes Yes! This book was definitely written to support Obama’s personal political ambition. What politician now a day tells the truth? Even though it is insisted that this book was not made to help Barack Obama during his political career, then why didn’t he take out this book back then. I know many people wouldn’t have probably read it, but if he is a so call “writer”, he should have wanted this book published a while ago.

While reading this book, I felt that he was trying to make us, the reader feel a sense of pity for his life? Not that he lived a horrible rags to richest type of life, but just on how he had a weird relationship with race and how his father wasn’t a part of him. One thing for sure though is that I really don’t believe he wrote this book. There has been lots of controversy about this autobiography like many people such as Time Magazine calling it “the best-written memoir ever produced by an American politician” and many websites like the American Thinker saying there had to be a ghost writer. For me I think he probably didn’t write it but just gave the ghostwriter facts about his life growing up and stuff. I just can’t imagine President Barack Obama sitting there writing this memoir all by himself. Sorry Mr. President.

December 6th, 2010

Dreams From My Father – not a fan

To be honest I came into reading Dreams From My Father very negatively. Even though it is mentioned that it’s an autobiographical book and was not used for political exposure,  that’s a lie. I knew from day one it was going to be used for political reasoning. I’m not much into politics, I should be but I find it very boring. I didn’t vote or watch anything political. I find it very boring and to be honest worthless because I believe they all lie to you just to get votes and when they win (yes I’m talking about Obama and his “change”) they don’t do crap. That is why once I found out we were going to read Obama’s Dream From My Father I was very disappointed in the choice of reading.

One thing that did interest me during the reading, YES there was one aspect from the first 8 chapters that had me entertained was his relationship with race. It was a very awkward relationship since he didn’t feel comfortable with being half black and half white. It had to do alot with his environment since he went to school on Hawaii and he was the only black kid in his class, no one quite understood what he was going through. Then when there were more black kids in his school, he couldn’t identify with them. His race issues were a big part of this section and even though he was young, it still followed him through his adulthood, “I was trying to raise myself to be a black man in America, and beyond the given of my appearance, no one around me seemed to know exactly what that meant.”(58)

Overall, I really wished I didn’t spend $ on this book, not my type of reading :(.

December 2nd, 2010

End of School Chaos

I’m one week behind on this class. Haven’t had a chance to purchase any of the last two books but def this weekend. With Final projects being due, it’s been so chaotic. I hate having to now read two books this weekend and not giving them the time of day. Although by reading some of these blogs, I guess I’m not missing much with the Obama book (sounds like a dreadful read), I’m going to try to find it in the library instead of purchasing it. The Women Warrior does sound like an interesting read, so hopeful the purchase would be worth it :).

November 30th, 2010

Blog Hopping

I enjoyed :

michaelzyskind’s – Can it be?

CaitlinMachicote’s – Drown

LisaMarieMaher’s – Drowining Again

November 30th, 2010

The Ending of Drown

To be honest, I enjoyed the first half of Drown more then the ending. Although it did have two good stories, “Boyfriend” and “How To Date A Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie”, I enjoyed a couple more stories in the beginning. I felt that they were more personal and had some more meaning. Maybe it’s just me.

I enjoyed “Boyfriend” and “How To Date A Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie” because just like “Aurora” (from the first half) they were different. Different in a way that I haven’t read a piece of writing like that before. It didn’t have much to do with the other stories but were very entertaining.

One of the reasons why I enjoyed “Boyfriend” was because it reminded me of a  friend’s personal relationship. In the story, not sure of it’s Yunior, Rafa or Junot Diaz himself over hears his neighbors conversation. They are a couple going through drama, “Boyfriend was trying to snake Girlfriend, saying he needed space / I saw him at bars and saw some of the girls he used to bring home while sh was away/ he just needed more space to cheat.” (111)

Like many guys, they never tattle on a another man’s game but he knows he was no good for her, “Homegirl was too beautiful, too high-class /She didn’t know nothing about his little Rico Suave routine. It would have wrecked her. ” (112,114)

The thing that makes this story very interesting is that as he hears the couple arguing, he starts remembering his ex girlfriend Loretta, “they sounded alot like me and my old girlfriend Loretta / ain’t nothing more shabby than those farewell fucks. I know. Me and Loretta had enough of those.” (111-112)

Even Though they remind him alot of his past relationship, it seemed it was a bad thing because he mentioned that he swore to himself he wouldn’t think about her. The relationship isn’t mentioned alot but bits and pieces make me believe that he really liked her but she did him wrong, “Crying all the time had made her more beautiful / Not for me. Loretta had left months ago and I still looked like hell.” (116)

It can’t compare to “Aurora” but this story was simple and nice. As I mentioned before it reminded me of a friend’s relationship, it didn’t work well but at the end she went on with life like the girl in the story did, she cut her hair short and did it to look fierce.

“How To Date A Browngirl, Blackgirl, Whitegirl, or Halfie” was another story that went another direction. It was funny because Junot Diaz actually made it like a step by step process on what to expect from a browngirl, blackgirl, whitegirl or halfie when dating one.

I doubt it was meant to be serious but I felt that Junot Diaz advise came from personal experiences. Here are some of my favorite sections of the story :

“If she’s an outsider her father will be bringing her, maybe her mother. Neither of them want her seeing any boy from the Terrace” (144)

“If she’s a whitegirl you know you’ll at least get a hand job” (144)

” A local girl may have hips and a thick ass but she won’t be quick about letting you touch / A whitegirl might just give it up right then / A halfie might lean back, breaking away from you” (147-148)

I found the funniest to be “If the girl’s from around the way, take her to El Cibao for dinner / If she’s not from around the way, Wendy’s will do.” (145) Wendys on a date, can you believe that? lol.

Although the ending of Drown had it’s funny stories, the beginning stories were still more interesting.

November 16th, 2010

Drown by Junot Diaz

I LOVE this book. I guess I might be cheating since its my 2ND time reading this book but it’s still as enjoyable as the first. It’s edgy, different and at times very inappropriate, which I love. Junot Diaz, being the recognize writer he is, also has another best seller called The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao which I been dying to get a hold on but havent had a chance. Maybe over the winter vacation?

The reason why I loved Junot Diaz’s  writings in Drown is that they are all short stories that make you in visualize his life. Although it’s not an official autobiography, parts of the book seemed to be from his childhood. From his experiences in the campo, to his father being abusive and his brother being a slut, I have heard many true stories like that which makes me believe maybe some of it can be from personal experiences.

A couple of my guy friends who at a young age went back to their country for vacation, all reminded me of Rafa. Rafa being Yunior’s older brother in the story YSRAEL is one heck of a slut. All he talks about is all the girls he had sex with and is proud of that accomplishment, “I’m going to go crazy-chinga all my girls and then chinga everyone’s else’s.” The reason why Rafa reminds me of many of my guy friends is when Yunior mentioned that “he wore the same outfit when he went to see these girls, a shirt and pants that my father had sent him from the States.” Why you may ask? Well I guess a guy’s life is different then a girls but supposedly if you go to a foreign country and some girls from there know you come from “the States” they are more easier to get. By your outfits, they can tell you are not from there and find you more attractive. I’m not saying its 100% true but the book mentioned it, andmy friends did as well, so there might be some truth to it. That’s it why I love this book, because many of the events in this book actually has happened in real life.

One of my favorite chapters was Aurora. It was just a mixed of emotions and events that make you say wow! Aurora is his one love but not in the ideal relationship you think true love should be. His relationship with her is very abusive, but both of them seemed to enjoy that. In the section One of our nights, you can see what their relationship is based on.

 “She once tried to jam a pen in my thigh / but that was th night I punched her chest”

Both of them are abusive to each other and yet he loves her, “she picks off my glasses and kisses the parts of my face that almost never gets touched. How could anybody hurt a man with eyelashes like this.”

Aurora is described to be a drug addict who just got out of Juvie. Although his boy doesn’t recommend him to see her, he still finds this addiction towards her, “I want us to be like that again.”

One of my favorite part of the chapter is a section called Lucero.It’s a bit out there and  I don’t know if it’s based on another girl but it definitely has to do with an abortion. In my last class, I wrote a response to this section in which I believed that this section was about Aurora telling him that she had an abortion. In a later section she mentions that while in Juvie she was pregnant, “three months and I haven’t had my period.”  And that is why in Lucero to me she’s the one telling him about the baby. “I would have named it after you / you’re named after a star” she tells him, but he isn’t quite understanding what she is trying to say, “what the fuck are you talking about?” and that’s when she gives up I guess and responds to him,”I’m telling you something. Something about me. What you should be doing is listening.” When she first mentioned the “I would have named“, she definatly innituated that she no longer was pregnant and since he didn’t know what she was talking about, he didn’t know she was pregnant. Maybe he would of told her to keep it? Who knows. That’s why I enjoyed this chapter because it left you with tons of questions.

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