Breaking Up with a Job You Love

Creative and Personal, Education, Journalism, Portfolio, Thoughts, Writing

After teaching for six years (two in high school), I made the choice to leave secondary education. In retrospect it became emotionally similar to ending a long-term relationship…

(Article published on Medium.com)

It’s 10 p.m. and one of my best friends and I decide to compulsively go buy about thirty dollars’ worth of flowers.  We did this often–impulse buying after stressful days at work.  Flowers are practical. And so is that nail polish with a self-imposed misogynistic names.

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Crisis at the Border: The Hope of Words

Journalism, Portfolio, Thoughts, Writing

“Tender Age Shelters” where children are sent. (Source: FOX 25)

(Article published on Medium.com) 

While children sit in holding pens and parents are sent away — while lives are broken — we are sitting behind our screens debating the legality and blame of a horrific situation. We are blending and bending facts to our will when, by definition, facts should be defended as iron-clad objective reality. Lines that do not bend to petty rhetoric. The general argument surrounding immigration and detention is derailing us from the conversations we should be having. Instead of what is right or wrong, we need to shift to something akin to how do we fix this… or what are possible solutions? What is the damage we are causing? In the face of these questions, who did it and who could be arrested for it should be overshadowed by the blatant fact that it is happening in the first place.

A recent article written by Ben Shaprio stated that the media was “going insane” and “lying” over families being separated at the border. That these issues were present during the Obama era. That families entering the country legally were not separated and treated fairly. While Shaprio is not factually off, his points are moot and fallaciously non-sequitur. They are bait, meant to entice readers to partake in a cyclical examination of the current state of our immigration reformation and Trump’s no-tolerance policy. He covers no grey area and makes claims that easily fall into the binary of the political game.

STOP: Stack Up’s New Veteran Support Service Can Help Save Lives

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

How non-profits and video games are picking up where government support of veterans falls short: saving lives.

Article published on SideQuesting

According to a press release from last September by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the suicide rate of veterans in the United States is 22% greater than non-veteran citizens. “We know that of the 20 [veteran] suicides a day that we reported last year, 14 are not under VA care,” said VA Secretary Dr. David J. Shulkin in the report. “This is a national public health issue that requires a concerted, national approach.” Even without this data, it’s easy to see that war affects all lives intertwined with its pervasive web. Being deployed overseas is not a nine-to-five job; war doesn’t stop for coffee breaks or lunch dates. And, over the last few years, there is an increasing lack of belief in the support the VA can offer veterans returning home; a question in credibility that stemmed from whistle-blowers who, in 2015, made the claim that hundreds of thousands of veterans have died while on the VA’s waitlist for healthcare.

The Weight of Your Words

Academic, Games and Media, Journalism

How language is manipulating our thoughts and why it is drastically important to teach.

The trouble with words is that, regardless of their size, whether they are salient or subtle, they matter. In their weightless form, they can move mountains and manipulate realities. They can inspire genocide and create peace. America’s national parks are built on their formless back. The Nazi Party was founded on their circulation (e.g., all race other than what Hitler deemed Arian were described as parasitic “bastard races” in schools). The anger, or hatred, or disdain you may feel toward our current political situation in the United States could be based on the graceful words from our president’s mouth, or his Twitter.

Elevated Sci-Fi and Why Stories Matter: Blade Runner 2049

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Blade Runner 2019 provides a gorgeous narrative that digs into age-old philosophical questions.

Article published on Sidequesting: http://www.sidequesting.com/2018/01/elevated-sci-fi-and-why-stories-matter-blade-runner-2049/

Some may argue that its financial downfall at the box office dooms the film as a failure — yet many critics deem Blade Runner 2049 the best film of the year. There is a strange dichotomy in thought here, as to what deems a film’s success: on one hand we have financial failure, perhaps not enough popcorn to draw in the casual fan; on the other, we have a resounding success as one of the best science fiction films of all time, thanks to the very thing that made it unfriendly toward the casual viewer: existential investigation.

In that case, Blade Runner 2049 succeeds. It is long. It is hard to digest. But, to that end, it takes the viewer on a philosophical exploration of the human soul. That exploration, hard though it may be, is all the more important in an age when we are inundated with mindless entertainment, instant gratification, and unreliable information (I write, as I sit in a café staring at a couple in conversation — the girl, uninterested, browsing through Instagram; the guy, attentive, stares in erudite longing at her “uh huh” responses).

On Judgement: There Was a Man

Creative and Personal, Thoughts

The streets of London plead for attention; a necessary contrast from the ubiquitous gloomy atmosphere of a tired city. Art, music, musings, and performances line sidewalks and alleys. Voices and brassy guitar chords echo into the rhythm of the river. The beats of nightclubs vibrate walls and glass.  Chatter and tourists and the scent of candied peanuts mixed with oil–a hint of America.

However, the hidden gems lay in London’s crevices. Between the booming parkour magic tricks and tourist traps. They are the unadorned modest moments. The kind that whisper a reminder: life can be simple and sweet and beautiful in small moments.

My gem, this time around, was an old man.

The Benefits of Fandom: Rise of the Con

Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio
Article published: http://www.sidequesting.com/2017/09/the-benefits-of-fandom-rise-of-the-con/

Why events like Dragon Con are holding contemporary geek culture together where E3 falls short, and how that is changing the industry.

It’s around 11 p.m. on a Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia. I am standing in a sea of people, all of whom are staring, in a sort of trance, at a strange amalgamation of pirate and goth singing sea-shantyish songs. Tongue-and-cheek lyrics that border on macabre and irreverence fill our ears, and we rise and fall with the sway of words despite the gruesome undertones—a stark contrast to the last hour, where we listened to the Atlanta Phil Harmonic Orchestra play music from film and television favorites. And the hour before that, when we perused an entire floor of artwork that ranged from Greek and Norse Mythology to dragons, faeries, and cats. Or before that, when we joined 600 other people and listened to the musings of Jim Butcher.

First Years and Appreciation: We Are Not Falling Apart

Creative and Personal, Education, Thoughts
‘The Learning process is something you can incite, literally, incite, like a riot.’ This is what happened that year. We read and talked and disagreed, and the world, so very much world, began to shake inside us as we found our humanity in all this inhumanity, found empathy and compassion, found moral compasses, as we learned to hold history accountable, to hold the newspaper headlines accountable, to hold each other accountable. And all this in English class, not at home, not at church or temple or mosque, but from reading novels with Ms. W. In one year, she turned us into thinkers. I began to understand reading and writing as a revolution, thinking as being a profoundly active verb. I began to understand that a person writing quietly in a room might be burning down the world. And then rebuilding it, word by word, into something magnificent.” -Audre Lorde

It’s a damp, muggy, beautiful July morning in Charleston. I am doing yoga beneath the ancient oak tree that sits by my apartment. From my twisted angle, the sun flickers a honeyed-yellow light between the pieces of Spanish moss. I inhale slowly and close my eyes, forgetting the last of the moving boxes I have to pack. Imagining myself at the front of a high school classroom–finally achieving my purpose: making a difference. I love my college kids, and I am still so passionate about teaching them, but the mentality of the ivory tower drained my idealism within my teaching philosophy.

The Rhetoric of Video Games: How Game Design Makes Meaning

Academic, Games and Media, Portfolio

(This article was written as part of my graduate thesis and is part of my on-going research in education, rhetoric, and games.)

A few weeks ago I took part in a panel at the Game Developer’s Conference in San Francisco that explored the relevance of video games—of what scholar James Paul Gee calls a “problem of content,” in which we only value an artifact as educational if it provides tangible content (22). At the conference major developers and game designers gathered together to talk about what the medium of games was to become with the incessant invectives of games being “a waste of time” or “a phase to grow out of.” If that’s all games are, then what’s the point of working in them? As a field, we need to find a way to elucidate these claims. We need to shine light on video games as a medium that has the potential to serve alongside traditional artifacts accepted in an artistic and academic setting, while also realizing that some games are simply meant to be used as entertainment or escapism. Regardless, the level of interactivity games allow have proven to provide profound effects on cognitive enhancement, but we can only use them progressively if they are taken serious both by their audience and their creators.  Ian Bogost argues that games should be discussed alongside “traditional media subjects,” and that “teaching games alongside reading, writing, and debating them as argumentative and expressive practices” can help evolve the way we look at rhetoric in new media (136). Thus the aim of this project, inspired largely by this conversation, is to explore how video games create meaning through their design—ultimately looking at how games apply and use multi-modal rhetorical devices to influence players in a manner that other mediums may not be able to.

Interaction and Autism: How Games Help

Education, Games and Media, Journalism, Portfolio

Video games, unlike any other medium, offer the opportunity to help socialize children who have Autism.

(Article published on SaveGame.)

As an educator, I have an interest in researching how video games can help us to better understand learning through interaction, play, and experience. Despite their often negative reputation for being a “waste of time,” video games still provide us with a unique medium of entertainment because they require direct interaction from the player. This aspect introduces a new dimension in how forms of entertainment and media affect us, especially in fields like medicine and psychology.