I had so much fun interviewing others.  It was quite a wonderful learning experience.  I now realize that when an interview is interviewee-centered rather than interviewer-centered, the interviewee discusses a lot more information with the interviewer that probably would have never been mentioned.  The first two interviews I conducted were in person and held back to back with a lesbian couple, Kiana and Barbara.  I originally assumed they were lesbians, but during the course of the interview discovered they were bisexual.  In fact, both women had previously dated men before dating women.  Later in the night, I even got to ask Kiana’s younger sister, Lexie, a few questions about her experience with Kiana and Barbara.

When approaching this interview, I feel I had many assumptions about the GLBT community that I was not even aware I had, which were continually contradicted.  I assumed, for instance, that the GLBT community must feel slighted by religious people and their incapacity to accept gay marriage, yet both Kiana and Barbara feel it would be wrong to get married in the traditional sense, especially in a church.  They both felt this would be making a mockery of religion.  Further, Kiana once believed, but no longer does believe, that to be gay is an abomination against God.  Barbara still believes to be gay is an abomination against God.  I also believe I was confronted by my own stereotypes of this community, for I noticed that there was no rainbow paraphernalia hanging all around their home.  Also, I feel I have frequently made the assumption that homosexuals experience love differently than heterosexuals, that in some way their experience might be more physical based, yet Kiana and Barbara expressed some of the deepest love I have ever observed between two people.  Kiana told me that the love shared between two women is incredibly intense, and that she has never experienced love to this degree with a man.  Further, they both told me that bisexual people are just as loyal as others, that they do not desire a connection with a man and feel they are missing something when they are with a woman.  This too contradicted my original assumption, an assumption I believe I acquired from a heterosexual community that taught me well to think the opposite.  If my interviews were interviewer-centered, I believe I would have never recognized my faulty assumptions.  Instead, my questions would have been derived from these assumptions and influenced the interview to head in a totally different direction.  Overall, I realize now, from this experience and interview, that what we call normal, the home life of the heterosexual, is sometimes not even close in comparison to the normalcy expressed in the home life of the homosexual.  From the moment I arrived to Kiana and Barbara’s home, until the moment I left, I felt so welcomed.  There was a special sense of warmth and harmony that flowed through their walls, which I have not frequently experienced in the home’s of heterosexuals.  They both were very open and accepting of the interview experience and of me in general.  They were not afraid to express themselves and their real feelings.  I adored being with them.  I also adored meeting Kiana’s younger sister, Lexie, who told me that she does not mind that Kiana is gay, because she can still come to Kiana with boyfriend problems and Kiana understands.  Kiana, Barbara, and Lexie all agreed to getting their picture taken and posted online.  Here they are down below listed in this order:  Barbara, Kiana, Lexie.

  Barbara and Kiana


My third interview was with Todd, a gay man, who I also assumed was gay only.  It turned out that Todd too was bisexual.  His boyfriend, the man he lives with, is the only boyfriend he has ever had.  Prior to this relationship, he only had girlfriends.  It was interesting to see how many of the assumptions I made about the GLBT community before visiting with Kiana and Barbara were also being challenged at Todd’s home.  First, his home was also very harmonious.  He had dozens of pets: turtles, fish, snakes, lizards, rodents, dogs, cats, etc.  I was surrounded by these beautiful creatures, some of which I took pictures of and will include my favorite, his chinchilla, in this post.  Todd mentioned something to me that Kiana also mentioned, which caught me by surprise.  He said that flamboyant gays are not being themselves, that they are acting the role of the cookie cutter gay that is frequently presented in stereotypical cinema.  He said that he feels some gays are born naturally feminine or masculine, but the flamboyant stereotype of the gay man contradicts the truth of the gay man, which is that he comes in many different personalities.  At this point in my interview with Todd, I started making connections with my interview with Kiana.  Kiana also said that she disliked the stereotypical representation of lesbians being butch-like and aggressive.  She too said it was a false representation.  Overall, I noticed that Kiana, Barbara, Todd and his boyfriend contradicted these stereotypes completely.  They were not the flamboyant gays or the butch lesbians the cinema makes them out to be.  They were people with hopes, desires, and goals.  Here is a picture of Todd and below him a picture of his chinchilla.


    Todd’s chinchilla

My final interview, the one conducted online with a male homosexual, did not prove to be very effective.  The most beneficial part of the experience was that the time spent between sending emails back and forth caused me to reflect more and decide to begin the interview by asking him what he would like to talk about first.  He gave me a lot of good ideas, things I would never even have considered without his help.  But once I sent him the questions to be answered, he took a very long time to respond. When he did finally respond, he did not answer many of the questions.  Further, the questions he did respond to included very short answers that lacked sufficient detail in order to be able to grasp understanding from them.  For instance, when asked why he wanted to come out, he stated, “Because I was tired of hiding it.”  In response to this answer, I would like to ask him, “Why were you tired of hiding it?” but I did not feel comfortable enough to pry my nose in any further.  I would have felt uncomfortable attempting to approach him with more questions, because it appeared evident to me that, even though he originally expressed  enthusiasm in taking the interview, he did not feel comfortable answering many of the questions.  I cannot help but wonder then, if this interview was more interviewee-centered like the others, if he would have felt more compelled to answer fully and less uncomfortable about disclosing information.


In class last week, we also analyzed the line, “The edge of chaos is where writing has enough stability to sustain itself and enough creativity to deserve the name of writing,” which posed a statement of Syverson’s in a different way.  In relationship to the physics of life, something that is chaotic both in its sustainability and creativity, writing must also be chaotic in its sustainability and creativity.  Like the physics of life, writing is a complex system.  Before proceeding, I would like to consider a painting of Jackson Pollock’s, One, which is posted below.

Magnificently, Pollock’s painting reveals this chaos of sustainability and creativity within the physics of life.  Simultaneously, he shows that it is also within art.  Pollock was able to create this painting, because he recognized that the complex system was within, not only physics, but also his experience of art, thereby causing him to literally paint that experience of the complex system, which is revealed in his painting above.  His painting illustrates a clear representation of the equilibrium of chaos within a complex system.  Writers, I believe Syverson is suggesting, need to embrace this complex system as an experience that is both inside and outside of the self.  They should strive to recognize that because they, by definition of the complex system, are dynamic beings, making them unpredictable and spontaneous beings, their writing is also unpredictable and spontaneous.  Therefore, it might be best for writers to approach the writing process with a feeling of spontaneity, for even when they approach a writing project with an exact intent, the chances are the original intent will change shape over time, because there are so many unseen forces contributing a role in the writing process.  Along with the many psychological unseen forces of the subconscious and unconscious, there are also many unseen forces, as Syverson suggests, outside of us that are playing a role, such as the environment, other people, our bodies, and the means by which we create.  For example, when first approaching this assignment, I intended only to explain the line, “The edge of chaos is where writing has enough stability to sustain itself and enough creativity to deserve the name of writing,” which we discussed in class last week.  Yet I did not intend to discuss how Pollock’s painting symbolized this complex system.  I did not intend to suggest that his approach to painting is the approach writers should take when creating a poem or manuscript.  These ideas just came flooding out of me like, as William Wordsworth would have called it, “a spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.”  Therefore, my now interconnected relationship, as reader of Syverson’s work and as observer of Pollock’s painting, has influenced my writing choices.  These choices are not individualized.  They are not only my own.  They are also Syverson’s, Pollock’s, and many others, all locked together in a spontaneous, yet harmonious, complex system.

The next thing I would like to discuss is my environment.  I am currently in Cooper Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, bored out of my mind while waiting for my friend to get his colonoscopy behind him.  I have no other choice but to wait here for hours, so I decided to get some of my writing done.  I feel this environment is currently influencing me to invest a lot more time and energy into this post, because typically I feel like I am running out of time, but this place makes me feel like I have a few extra hours to do nothing.  Next, I did not bring my laptop with me out of fear of being jumped and robbed for it.  I felt it might be unsafe to bring it into Camden.  Consequently, this is the first post that I am writing on paper, which I feel will cause the final copy, the one on my blog, to turn out differently (I am typing this post to my blog now, and I can tell you that it has definitely changed as a result of typing it).  Also, I feel writing with a pen on paper influences me to express more passion in my writing sometimes, because I feel like the blank piece of paper is screaming at me to fill it in.  The computer screen doesn’t do this for me.  Yet the computer does many things for me that paper does not do.  As I mentioned in class, I feel that having my laptop has made me a better writer, but at the time I did not explain what I meant about this clearly enough.  What I meant is that my laptop makes everything so much more easily accessible.  Okay, I admit that I am lazy sometimes.  I do not feel like getting up to get the dictionary, thesaurus, or some other book for clarification when writing on paper.  My laptop makes it very easy to avoid these type of writing complications, so instead of having to dig through one of my books to find what Wordsworth said exactly about spontaneity and its relationship to writing poetry, all I have to do is click a button and I am there.  Further, I once told people that reading expanded my vocabulary recognition so much.  Now I feel my laptop has helped me to do this just as much, yet in much less time.  These contributors, along with many others, suggest that as a writer I am not just one mind composing, rather I am a pen, a laptop, a body with moving hands, etc.  In the Journal of Value Inquiry, David Brubak discusses the philosopher, Merleau-Ponty, and his concept of the three intertwinings.  Brubak says, “Merleau-Ponty developed the notion of the flesh as a ‘thickness of the body’ that permits communication between our perceptions and the things themselves.”  Before I studied Merleau-Ponty, I thought that the body and material things in our environments served no importance.  I, like Plato and Socrates, was an idealist.  Now I know that without our bodies and the things in our environments, we could not experience our ideas.  Now I know that all of these things are very significant.  Now I know that writing is a complex system that involves the active engagement with all of these significant elements.

One final note, in consideration of the environment and the notion of writer’s block, I think it is interesting to consider when we talk about writer’s block that we automatically assume that it is something in the mind that is keeping us from thinking creatively.  Yet might it not be the environment that is blocking our pathways of creative thought?  For instance, I noticed when I am at work I cannot write very well at all.  I dispatch police, fire, and medical, and while working I hear buzzing, ringing, beeping, screaming, and many other chaotic sounds of the busy world around me.  Consequently, I feel my chaotic environment causes me to experience writer’s block.  I mention this because Syverson says that notions like writer’s block have been invented solely from our emphasis on “thinking” as the primary contributor in writing.  I feel she is correct, so I now offer a new way to perceive these sort of notions, namely that the environment or other factors are causing things like writer’s block to occur.

Do ducks look into the mirror, and while squinting at their own gazes, search for their complexities within their simplicities?  How does a duck know it is a duck, considering it probably has never looked into the mirrors of life before?  That which we call a complex system rolls and rumbles without the duck’s awareness, stumbles on bottles with messages, and lands itself right into the lap of the human being.  The ducks have refreshed my existence today on the sharp breeze of their wings that swung me through the air, swiped me with their flapping flare, and showed me what it meant to be a chaotic being of stability.  Ducks are gutsy.  They do not need to look in a mirror before asking someone on a date or engaging in self-reflection.  Ducks can teach humans a lot about courage.  They can teach humans to self-reflect in the absence of the mirror, to see more than what they perceive in the mirror.  Because of the ducks, and my #core2s10 class, I have written a duck story today.  The experience of being in class and discussing the duck story with everyone, reading and reflecting on Syverson, and watching the ducks at the park, have all intermingled down the tube of the writing process, as I engage in this complex system of writing.  Now I experience the duck, feel the duck, and accept the duck as my own.  And the message in the bottle said, “Write about the duck.”

Last week in class, I mentioned that when writing about what I have been told by others I worry about the reliability of the material written.  At the time, Dr. Wolff asked me to clarify what this meant to me, but I did not answer.  Since then I have done much reflection, and I now know what it means to me.  First, I gave an example in class that night, which I felt might cause others to question the reliability of my work.  My mother grew up in foster homes her entire childhood since she was two, and she has told me several really fascinating, yet horrifying, stories.  For example, she was viciously abused, both physically and emotionally.  She observed other children being abused also.  She remembers waking another foster child late at night, telling her to go to the bathroom out of fear that if she wet the bed she would be once again smothered in her wet sheets, beaten repeatedly in her own urine, while wrapped in these ruthless rags of toilet torture.  As a writer, I would really like to discuss these stories in a nonfiction piece, yet I would like to do it without having to conduct an interview or feel as though the reader is saying, “How do you know exactly what happened?  This is heresy.  We want to hear from the mother.”  These words pierce my mind when writing about the words of others, for I have been taught that reliability is crucial in nonfiction writing.  

Strangely, this overbearing emphasis on reliability contradicts what Syverson suggests writers should do, namely to consider more than “what they know” during the writing process.  Reliability suggests that writers should ask what they know rather than what others know or what others have told them, thereby reinforcing writers once again to focus only on thought, namely what they know, as the primary contributor in the writing process.  Clearly, writers should consider more than what they know.  Therefore, this definitely makes for a great discussion and poses a really important question.  Should we be emphasizing reliability as much as we do in writing, and if so, how do we do it without compromising our active engagement with the complex system of writing?  Surely, the complex system of writing is something that just happens subconsciously, yet I believe if we learn to consciously embrace it we then will experience writing at a different level, a level of supreme mindfulness.  At this level, we will learn to embrace writing, not with our minds, but with our pens, our keyboards, our hands, our bodies, and our environments.

I wanted to explore more about the meaning of the pink triangle this week, only with the sex symbols included within the image.  I brought this symbol to class with me last week, which is shown below.

It appears to me that all of these symbols are connected to one another, Venus, Mars, and even Venus and Mars as one, in order to illustrate the GLBT community as a community that is in continuous progress, signified in the central area of the symbol, namely the circle. Further, the different symbols within this one symbol suggest many things. Within this triangle, for instance, we can see many relationships, that of two males, two females, the male and female, and the transgender individual with either male or female. Overall, there is a very powerful connection of the sexes represented within this symbol, a connection that almost suggests a disconnection within the heterosexual world.

I also discovered that the GLBT community reclaimed the pink triangle as a symbol of empowerment, as a means to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime. In other words, they have chosen to transform the history of torture that was once widely represented in the pink triangle into a symbol of gay pride and gay rights.   Here is the other picture I brought with me to class last week, a picture of Jewish prisoners lined up for the Nazi soldiers.  The prisoners have the pink triangle pasted to their chests, a means to identify them as homosexual prisoners, their crime being that of homosexuality.

Here is a scene from the movie titled Bent, a movie about the experience of two gay men who use their love for each other as a means to survive during the holocaust.  In this clip, one of the men describes the meaning of the pink triangle during this time period in history.  He says it is considered the lowest symbol of all.

Here are the questions I developed for my online interview if anyone is interested in observing what I came up with. I developed a lot of them as I moved along with my first two interviews, and, as I mentioned in class, by asking my interviewees what they wanted to talk about first. Click on the link below. Thanks.

interview questions for core 2

Tonight’s class was interesting.  I really enjoyed sharing my object with everyone and listening to what everyone else had to say about their objects.  One of my favorite of all the objects was the for sale sign.  There really is so much going on in a for sale sign, so much more than what we see, especially currently with the way our economy has been going.  This presentation caused me to reflect on the implications of a for sale sign.  When I see a for sale sign outside of a home, I typically think that people are moving, choosing to start anew.  What I do not think is that they have given up, because they can no longer afford to pay for their home.  I do not think that they abandoned their home, so now the bank is trying to sell it.  Nor do I think about the many other horrible possibilities.  It is not that I do not realize these things are happening, but rather that I do not choose, in the moment of viewing a for sale sign, to think about all of this.  Similar to how I do not view a bubble and think about how scientists once used bubbles in experiments and painters once painted bubbles for money.  Like the bubble, the for sale sign probably has such a long and interesting history that should be researched, especially a history in the case of economics.

I also loved the Pine Tree idea, but I found myself wanting to know more about how these people identify with the Pine Tree.  What does the Pine Tree say about who they are?  Also, how does the history of the Pine Tree relate to their lives in the past, present, and future?  In other words, how did its history influence who they became over time, and who they will continue to work at becoming?  I think these would be interesting questions to consider when researching this object.  

I also will be doing more research on my object, the pink triangle, both as a gay pride and rights symbol, and as a concentration camp identity badge, once called the badge of shame, signifying that a man was homosexual.  I really think this is so incredibly interesting.  Further, I think it is very important, when choosing our objects, to consider their history, a history that includes the past, present, and future.  Now for the call-outs.