Why I Don’t Blog Often

Recently I’ve been stalking start-up bloggers and old timers (vloggers & insta-famous people included) to see what it is that they have and I don’t. And then I realized – the only difference between me and them is that they don’t hold back.

I come up with random, out of the ordinary ideas a lot but I often don’t voice them because of fear. Part of that fear is that the world won’t accept who I portray myself to be and since rejection nuh nice, then f*&^ it. I may go for a certain look or feel, then all of a sudden cringe at my obviously poor decision-making skills (you’re free to roll your eyes).

Because we live in an audio-visual generation, I’m discouraged by the thought that people hardly like reading anyway (and don’t act like you’re not part of the crowd that will only read Instagram captions THE MOST – ESPECIALLY the ones who skip over all the words to look for who was tagged because their name is somehow relevant info to your daily survival).cropped-wpid-img_20150901_1103593.jpg

Sometimes when I get the urge to write, I question my writing style. I’ve come to terms with having Jamaican Creole pop up at EVERY turn no matter what. I talk like that, so it’s a homely feeling. But if I have to think of my audience & the fact that not everyone knows J’can Creole, then I start doubting my methods. If I go into questioning my methods, then everything is thrown out of balance & feels unnatural to who I am. Once I start switching words around, I lose interest and don’t post anything.

But to solve all that, I’m making moves to simply letting things be and the chips (& words) fall where they may.

Maybe I have some ideas that seem normal and insignificant to me but are actually beneficial to you. Maybe I’m wrong about something that you can teach me about. In any case, don’t just expect more frequent, random posts, but longer ones too.

Adios!

 

 

If you’re into poems and short stories, click the “Poems” or “Story Poetry” tabs at the top of the page, or just go here Poems * Story Poetry

 

The Problem with Having a Literature Degree in 2016

Recently I attended the Annual Job Expo at the University of the West Indies, Mona. Part of the aim of this event is to expose students, especially those in their final year, to employers who are looking for fresh meat and minds to come and boost their company’s development.

pic_mba_degree

The environment is usually full of desperate (and sometimes immature) youngsters like me who don’t particularly like the idea of a busted A/C sputtering over their heads and being trapped at a boring desk decorated with loosely organized files. Everyone usually seeks out job offers that promise fun activities. In rare cases, some will succumb to the only companies willing to take them in, merely because those companies need more employees and are willing to pay despite your lack of experience. It’s in situations like these that a person with a Literature degree is likely to find themselves.

As I weaved my way through the crowd, visiting each booth, I couldn’t help wondering which of these companies would actually hire me. I’m in my final year, supposedly the final semester in the scheme of things (should I pass all my courses) but I still don’t know the answer to the traditional, “What are you planning to do with your degree?” So instead of drafting a satisfying answer, I set out to ask the representatives at the Expo what positions they think they had that could suit me.

The outcome was as expected. I got raised eyebrows and stutters of “Ah… well. Hmmm…”

The problem was not that there’s absolutely nothing I could possibly do with my Literature degree, but rather that employers themselves don’t even know what the degree requires from a person. Someone hears the word ‘Literature’ and they think, reading. Sure that is involved, but have you ever considered why a University would sanction a whole program dedicated to reading? That’s because it’s deeper than simply lifting the words off a page and committing them to memory. It involves critical analysis, and it demands self-development in the process. And isn’t that the kind of personality companies seek in their prospective employees?

I came across a booth at which a representative from my old job was poised. She said she remembered me, but she didn’t know what I was studying. When I told her, she admitted that she couldn’t understand how or why I got the job. This was a bank. She was there to promote, above all else, accounting. At least, that was her specialty, so she couldn’t perceive the scope of whatever I might have been doing while I was there. I told her the reason I was given when I met with the person who supervised me, as to why they needed a Literature student in the first place. Interestingly, they needed me (and my classmate) largely because – you guessed it – we read. As I came to realise on the job, a lot of the mistakes we encountered in their records were due to lack of reading thoroughly. Sometimes persons get so accustomed to the task they’d been appointed that they become complacent, sacrificing accuracy. This indirectly contributed to the company’s expenses, but we were able to help reverse that.

People also fail to realize that a Literature degree doesn’t confine itself to reading. There is journalism, communications, law, teaching, administration, human relations, and a whole host of random, seemingly non-related fields into which a Lit student can fit herself. But in 2016, maybe it takes the initiative of the student to step out and remind employers why the Lit Major is one of the best candidates for their companies.

One Thing ALL University Lecturers Must STOP Doing

Everyday at the University of the West Indies, I pass a bulletin board at the Department of Literatures in English with the following article posted on it: “Qualified But Clueless – University Graduates Say Students Studying Only To Pass Tests And Not Learning”. Each time I see it, I think, accurate, but how so really?

I’m not going to lie, up until my 1st year at UWI, all I’ve been doing with my brain was stuffing it with enough info to be able to pass my tests. It always worked. It was one of the reasons why I was recruited to play on the School’s Challenge Quiz Team as well. The mandate was basically “Read and Recite”. So you could just imagine my shock when, one by one, all my Literature lecturers took a good 15mins to firmly point out that they expected us to employ analytical skills. That, YES, they wanted to read in our essays what we truly thought, even if those thoughts weren’t necessarily fit for public viewing. That it was a major mistake for their high school counterparts to not have taught us how to think critically about why characters said/did what they did. How analyzing the behavioural pattern of fictional characters could help us do the same in reality.

It took some time for all of us to master the craft. Some still are. But for those of us who – according to teachers’ comments thus far – seem to be well on our way, we have now encountered a problem that counteracts with our success. Now we’re being given great grades for work we know without a doubt could have been better done.

Now before you call me crazy, hear me out.

I could always empathize with lecturers who seem especially enthusiastic about their work, but just don’t get responses from their students, so I always tried answering their questions. I couldn’t bear the awkward silence that followed if I didn’t at least try. Can you imagine being pumped about something and dying to share it with others, but all you get is dead silence and blank stares? That’s got to be uncomfortable. But the problem is, once lecturers find that one person that they could rely on for discussion, they seem to be so grateful, that they start dishing out good grades, even when it’s clear you could’ve done more with your assignment. I’ve felt so many times that I could’ve read more, said more, dug deeper in my psyche and written a more eloquent piece, but still got A’s and B’s. Why?

“This was such a pleasure to read… This one essay has redeemed an entire class!!”

He's even having a conversation with the paper.. especially at points that I thought were'nt necessary O.o

He’s even having a conversation with the paper… especially at points that I thought weren’t necessary O.o

As it relates to the pictures above, I remember the writing process for that essay. It WAS NOT fun. The assignment question was intriguing, yes, and so were the theories involved, but ask any psychology major whether applying a theory to your own thesis [and successfully proving it] is easy. The comments throughout the essay were also slightly shocking. Of course I knew that what I was writing was relevant to the topic. I was addressing everything the question asked… but then I remembered the night before submitting the paper – propping myself up and trying to focus on the blurring words; my head bobbing back and forth; being surrounded by lifeless books in a cold library; the HUNGER!!! Conditions like those don’t contribute to anybody being able to write something sensible.

The feeling I get when I’m given such a grade is that I’m being rewarded for something other than this essay[namely, participation in class], and I don’t like it. You can’t be telling me that the point I’ve made in paragraph three could have been fleshed out more with additional examples; that my thesis could’ve been narrower, etc etc etc; making me expect a C+, yet giving me an A . What kinda logic is that? How am I supposed to judge my progress moving on from there? Am I supposed to then surmise that this level of performance [where I’m biting my nails because I KNOW I didn’t do my best] is acceptable? Am I supposed to settle there? If that was A-grade work, then are you telling me that there’s no more space to go up? But I still haven’t reached your level of thinking, so how am I gonna get there then?

And I’m not the only one who’s had this problem. Since like minds attract, I keep meeting people who reveal this issue to me, and I think, so what does that mean for the future? Because I’m easily a lazy person, so if you tell me that this standard is ok, and I end up having to teach a class 5yrs from now, I’m gonna be grading people worse than you’re doing right now. And I know that truly, a lot of persons think that this is absolutely no biggie, but I find that even in the corporate world, many of the persons on top aren’t critical thinkers, and even if they are, they don’t expect the younger generation to be. Most think we only know music and can’t even manage getting the simplest of tasks done. You’ll even find that they sometimes explain directives to you as if you’re still at the primary level of understanding. How does that even work?

Lecturers, all I’m saying is, keep pushing for your students to do more. This doesn’t mean you should discourage us, nor does it mean that you should make drastic changes to the way you give grades. But talk to us truly. Explain what is expected and why. Hint at the how. Even if we seem to be displaying the beginnings of critical thinking abilities, don’t automatically assume that we’re not still clueless.

Drinkable Books?

I’m a bibliophile – meaning, I love books. The stories clasped between covers [whether written in prose, poetry or in play form] make my day more than ice cream or cake. Sometimes people will notice this without me saying it directly. Apparently my excitement over a new book – its artistic cover, the very clever wording of the title, even its smoothness/roughness or the way it fits perfectly in hand – is a little ‘too weird’. I also love the smell of pages. Sometimes when I visit the library I tend to extend my stay just so I can enjoy the aroma.

But I’ve never gone so far as thinking you could actually drink books.

Now before you start picturing putting a book to your head and gulping down the water trickling out of it, here’s the back story.

Scientist, Dr Theresa Dankovich, created a special type of paper that, when any ole kinda water is poured on it, purifies that water. So no, you’re not literally drinking the book, but in a weird sense, you kinda are.

WATERisLIFE is the company that has partnered with Dr Dankovich to make this technology available. They say the paper-making process and the resulting product is cheap and affordable, but seriously, for how long? It is a very good initiative though, and they’ve already been using it for a good purpose. WATERisLIFE also has other water-filtering technologies which are being used to help the poorest of nations who have no means of getting purified water. Check out their website here. You can also read more on The Drinkable Book here and here.

Soooooo, would you consider drinking a book?

Trees (an excerpt, II)

Last year, trees became a significant recurrence in my life, signifying mostly death. I never knew why and I was afraid to explore it further, so I wrote about some of my experiences just to shake the shroud of fear off.

I also published an excerpt of the documentary, promising to add more overtime. I didn’t, was still afraid to and I felt people would find me weird.

For the past 8 or so months though, I’ve been learning from people who’ve had similar experiences – premonitions, foresights of the dead or dying, or of any kinda significant event worth preparing for, and I guess that’s made me more confident in sharing my experiences further. So here’s another excerpt of ‘Trees’ :

‘I could see the mangoes now. That was the first thing I remembered. A hole in the roof. As the vision cleared up, I realized that the hole was well constructed – half of the roof was actually purposely removed. Only beams that were never there before, ran horizontal of the length of the space. I guessed that was just for making the sudden gap that claimed your attention not look so noticeable. Well that was a waste of time.

‘The hole was on the right side of the house over the car porch. I don’t know where I was when… a hole was being purposely put in – but from what I can remember, I was coming from the inside when I saw it, so it must have been done quickly, before I woke up….

‘The second thing I remembered noticing about the hole was not the hole itself, but the very green of the leaves. Thinking back to Wide Sargasso Sea, I suppose they should have had a very bright, cheerfully hypnotizing green about them, especially in that peaceful morning light. Instead they were dark and menacingly hypnotizing… I think somewhere in my subconscious I wondered how those big, juicy-looking mangoes grew so perfectly amongst such evil-looking leaves.

‘Now, thinking about the hole, the leaves, the few big mangoes and me circling underneath to get a panoramic view, I don’t remember much else of the dream. But I know it means something. And it must mean death. Some time ago I learnt to accept the traditional belief that all, if not some specific dreams meant something. I accepted it because mine always foretold death, death in multiplicity. It was never just one person, never just one dream, and when they came, they were close, even if the deaths themselves weren’t…. I’ve had at least three or four this month already. Three people I’ve known, died already. Who is next?’

Be free to share your thoughts. Rereading this, I’m still a little weirded out about it all, but if anyone can shed light on the matter, you are welcome. Thanks!