Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What are your Five Writing Strengths?

What are your Five Writing Strengths?
I was asked this a few weeks ago in person and then saw it in writing on a blog so I guess I need to actually answer this one since is has now approached me from different directions.

What are my five writing strengths?!

Hummm... Good, good question. I'm going to have to think about this for a few moments. Please, go listen to music and come back at a later date.
Just kidding- or am I?

This is not to gloat, but to make me actually think about the finer points that I feel are my strengths. Yes, I realize that I seems to be coming from my finger tips alot right this second but this is about me after all...
So here goes:

1.)  Voice (no not like a vocal thing, silly even though I have been told I have a great singing voice. hee hee)
I have been told that I have a unique child-like voice. I am not sure if that is a compliment or not. I think it has to do with all the children/young adult literature I have read over the 35 or so years I have been reading. Possibly it is because my three favorite authors are L.M. Montgomery, Louisa May Alcott and J.K. Rowling and I tend to read their books every year without fail or maybe just maybe I am just an old child at heart and I like writing in that point of view. I am not sure. I really think that this can be a strength if I were to write children books.
But, I do want to learn to write better in an adult voice consistantly.

2.) I Love to Read
I am a prolific reader which gives me the vocabulary and imagery to carry this out in my own writing. Now, I know above I said I read alot of YA/Children books; but don't get me wrong, I know how to gobble up a good book by classic authors and obscure writers of all ages and do so atleast 25 times a year. I would love to read more, but who can read more than that while also going to school,studying for classes and caring for a family?  If you find someone who can pull this feat off then kudos to that person for their awesomeness (that was my son Devin's vocab tapping into my brain.)

3.) As Bill and Ted would say: I am a most excellent Speller
My pet peeve is misspelling words and so this comes to me naturally while I type to fix errors when they come along. This is helpful in my eyes because then I don't have to go back over my writing to edit spelling so much. Now, don't get me wrong- I am known to stall when asked to speed demand prompt writing because I can't handle not correcting errors as they come along.
What I really need is someone who will be my editor on sentence structure especially comma splices. That is not a good trait as a writer and I unfortunately am a chronic splicer with my own writing.

4.) Magnificent Memory
It has always helped me to draw into experiences that have come from my past, someone else's experiences and then they flow out onto the page to fill out a characters personality.

5.) Creative Tap is Constantly Flowing
I don't know if this is really a strength when the tap turns on at 3 a.m. and I am sleeping without pencil and paper to be found on my night stand, but I really don't know of any writer that doesn't have their creative juices flowing either early dawn breaking or late into the candle burning night.

The writing I have been complimented on by professors are those that happened to just come to me without really trying and when I am not pressured to write like for an assignment. 

One time for an American Literature class I had to write a Comparative Essay. I had done all the reading, researching and note taking I needed weeks in advance but because I had over-prepared, the creativity was fractured to say the least and  my writing well was bone dry. Not a single word would come out of my finger tips that was good. I had crap for a paper and everyone knew it especially me!  I started writing a letter about how like Bartleby I was shutting down on writing the paper and that it was becoming a monomaniacal point in my life. Just writing that letter as part of my intro started the rest of the writing flowing and by the time I got to my comparative and analytical argument I was on fire.  But, I didn't take out the personal flowing letter to the Professor so I ended up with a B plus instead of the deserving A as she put it because everything after that intro was superior scholar writing. 

I guess I really do need an editor to shut down the stupidity of what I don't know is good to keep in and what is crap to take out.

Morning Inspiration = Universal reminders

This dreary, soon-to-rain morning has found me in my snuggy warm bed reading prior status updates from the Timeline on Facebook. After writing a thank you to all my wonderful FB friends who have truly helped make my life a little fuller (yes, I realize that they are only words, but the words that some have given have uplifted, helped me to continue transitioning to another state and continued to foster the relationships that we have held (for some,) over the decades.  I happened to glance at the bar on the right of my screen when one of the titles caught my eye- it was on the  "Products/Service" column. The product was called "Rumors of Water"  I really need to check this out of the library or just buy it. I've read so many wonderful excepts from it.

I decided to click on it to see what it was all about. This seems to be a wonderful book on writing.  I read the various statuses and decided to click further onto some of the links that were listed on the page. What I found was a treasure trove of various blogs from people who like me are trying to feel around the world of writing. My favorite blog that I happened upon is called DRGT / Just Wondering... wherein a Christian woman writes about her life, her emotional experiences with her aging mother's decline and wonderfully sensitive things about following the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Now, mind you, this is not a blog from an "LDS" woman but then again aren't we all Christian who believe in Christ and siblings in the truest form and does it matter that she may believe a tiny bit different than I do about saints, how many Heavenly beings are one or that we believe that the Gospel is continued on in this life through a living Prophet? NO! what she writes has touched my heart. She has lifted my spirits and has deepened my love for the Gospel through her words and pictures.
I savor the shot in the arm of the "grandness" as my Aunt Claire likes to say of what I feel deep inside of my soul from reading her blog.

I am always in awe of people who can truly write and take you along on their journey as if it is their own. This is what this beautiful woman Diana has done for me, I truly hear her voice and it echos in my mind as a reminder of what is endearing about commonalities we have in our lives with others.
It is a reminder to me that we are all from one Heavenly Father, whatever you man call Him, that we are all His children and that we all have an Elder brother who died for us. The differences are not important focusing on since it is the commonalities that are the glue. We all love, feel heartache, trust, savor, sleep, eat and eventually pass on from this life. We need to continually focus on those universal humanistic truths and find something in everyone to connect with. This is one of my goals of the year- to find the good in everyone and focus on those good traits even those I may never see eye to eye with and to be positive with the world and life in general. Optimism is not a blinded following, it is a choice to step forward and try and make the world a better place.

One of the songs that always reminds me of this universal truth is:

"Heal The World"

There's A Place In
Your Heart
And I Know That It Is Love
And This Place Could
Be Much
Brighter Than Tomorrow
And If You Really Try
You'll Find There's No Need
To Cry
In This Place You'll Feel
There's No Hurt Or Sorrow

There Are Ways
To Get There
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
Make A Better Place...

Heal The World
Make It A Better Place
For You And For Me
And The Entire Human Race
There Are People Dying
If You Care Enough
For The Living
Make A Better Place
For You And For Me

If You Want To Know Why
There's A Love That
Cannot Lie
Love Is Strong
It Only Cares For
Joyful Giving
If We Try
We Shall See
In This Bliss
We Cannot Feel
Fear Or Dread
We Stop Existing And
Start Living

Then It Feels That Always
Love's Enough For
Us Growing
So Make A Better World
Make A Better World...

And The Dream We Were
Conceived In
Will Reveal A Joyful Face
And The World We
Once Believed In
Will Shine Again In Grace
Then Why Do We Keep
Strangling Life
Wound This Earth
Crucify Its Soul
Though It's Plain To See
This World Is Heavenly
Be God's Glow

We Could Fly So High
Let Our Spirits Never Die
In My Heart
I Feel You Are All
My Brothers
Create A World With
No Fear
Together We'll Cry
Happy Tears
See The Nations Turn
Their Swords
Into Plowshares

We Could Really Get There
If You Cared Enough
For The Living
Make A Little Space
To Make A Better Place...
From the Iconic words of Michael Jackson - what will you do this year to Make it [world] a better place for you and for me?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Rambling Thoughts of a Sick Woman at 4:30 in the Morning.

We gather around the sparkling, heavily-decorated, star-topped evergreen boughs on the cusp of self-discovery. As children we sat on pins and needles with anticipated joy with the hopes that we would get the presents we wrote down in our letter to Santa; You know the one you agonized over for days (if not weeks) before you put it down on paper in ink with cute little drawings of Santa and miscellaneous other christmas trappings colored with red, green, yellow and white pencils.

This year contains a house of teenagers, young adults and lets be honest- old fart forty-ish stick in the muds- are we sitting with excitement? That's where the cusp comes in.
If your one of the old farts, did you buy all the gifts and nothing is a surprise or just shockingly, did something get placed under or on the tree that was lovingly chosen especially for you from the one who never shops?!

If your the young adults- the ones who live in dorms, studying their brains fried and eating Ramen Noodles to make it by until the next paycheck— will you get something fun and exciting that will make you feel like your younger self- sitting and playing with gifts all day? This is the question: at the end of the day, will we, feel elated that Christmas came or will we feel disappointment in what we received and let it cloud the rest of the holiday? This most definitely will be the deciding angst for the two teenagers sitting amongst the gathering- the ones who will feel the most disappointed and show it a thousand times brighter than the rest. They are the ones who want the biggest, the fastest, the newest of all gadgets and for some reason, always the most expensive gifts of all. The ones where only a few gifts are bought but many were dreamed about.

So here we sit believing that this year will be different than in previous years; where we were slightly let down by the uneventful realization that we are no longer children— we can no longer sit idly by knowing that Santa will bring us that one amazing gift that gets our juices flowing until next November where we start anticipating again. We try to forget this old wounded knowledge and convince ourselves that this is the year of unconditional belief— that we still know Santa exists and joy will be had by all...

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!  ~Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers, 1836

Monday, November 28, 2011

Twisted Fate: Poem Honoring Halloween

Twisted Fate

The dark and dreary haunting
happens every night.

It ends upon the dawning
show of light.

Four green warty witches
flying through the air,

cackle at the victims
without any care.

Moss shroud upon their prison like
a coffin with a flag,

seven tiny children
are very, very, sad.

The warty witches taunt
and point into the sky,

the tiny children wish
they could go as high.

The pretty tiny children scream––
"whens our turn to fly?"

The wartiest of all cackles,
it was all a lie

No flying lesson for you
because your alive not dead,

we just wanted to get
inside your heads.

Streaking through the air
She meets her ghastly fate,

The smallest of the children
hits her with a Date,

the warty witch's crooked
foot hits the brooms brake.

Hurling down through trees
she sees the pitch forked laden mob

the other warty witches fly
off into thick fog.

She knows shes ready
for a bloody fight,

before the mob can reach her
she awakens with a fright.

Screaming at her sisters
"No more Sour Patch Kids at night."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Interesting thing happened on the way to learning about the American Government

Interesting thing happened on the way to learning about the American Government, I became politically conscience.  I hate that I care about it now. Before I would listen to the candidates, go by my little knowledge and Matt's advice and vote for someone who acted as if he could lead. Now, I have learned that I am really annoyed at the continual empty words and fighting that happens decade after decade between Presidental candidates. I know this is nothing new even during the 2nd Presidental race mudslinging happened, but as a now politically conscience 42 year old, I was hoping that there would be better choices in the pool of men & woman to pick this time around. It's the same old, same old and I am not full of optimism at the fate of our country unless you and I do something about it.  I thought that I wanted Mitt Romney for a GOP candidate but I realize that he is like everyone else, hollow, controversial and full of sweet talking words.
The only man, that we haven't heard enough from is John Huntsman and as a person who lived during his reign as Govenor, I really wish he would open his mouth wide and loud and show everyone that there is an intelligent Republican out there we can vote for.  He understands Foreign Policy probably better than any of the other candidates and with China in the rule of commerce, he would be an excellent liason since he has already been there and made contacts with their government as the Ambassador to China. We, who lived in Utah saw overall taxes drop, natural food sales tax drop but other taxes/fees were raised like the rediculous price of renewing your DL or Plates. But, I will also say that during his reign Utah was at the highest point of the economy with the housing boom but  also served during the collapse until he became Ambassador.  I trust him more than any other candidate and will more than likely be voting for him to get him past the primary. Too bad he is so low on the polls.  Again, I think he needs to open wide and speak up!

I don't want to complain about my knowledge but a heavy burden has now been put on my shoulders. As my great Professor Thompson says, "It is my [your] responsibility to know what the issues are, what the words really mean and what you are willing to do for the messages you don't like." Dang, I want to live in a sheltered, take it for granted the best man will win life and let everyone else decide for me. But, how is that working for me- really?  I will continue to search the issues, I will continue to watch all news channels and take their words with a grain of salt, I will continue to read POLITICO and every other blog from both sides and weight them out in my mind and then move forward with what I believe is best.  I will never again complain and use anyone elses words to speak for myself.

What will you do?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Across Borders and Beyond- A Memoir

Across Borders and Beyond

Long Beach, New York was edging toward the nip-your-nose, heavy jacket weather. I am 7 years old and nothing seems exciting to me. My brothers, dad, step-mom Jayne and baby sister Sharon have move to Utah without me. Life was like living in a fog with the Fog of all mothers beside me. School was not an outlet because I hadn't stepped foot in the brown-bricked building since first grade, so the tedium of watching T.V. and playing by myself was getting into my heart and head. " You are nothing. No one wants you. You were left behind because you are not as important as the rest," played over and over in my head.

With no explanation of why from my mother, I started back to school. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday... days floated by but weekends were the worst. My mother and I would go shopping or for a walk on the boardwalk but life seemed to be excruciatingly painful for my mother so no fun was had. Monday, back to school and I get called to the office, "What have I done that would get me sent there?" I wondered. Stepping inside that scary, dimmed, four-walled chamber stood the foundation of my security- my dad. Confusion set in, "why was he there since he had moved to Utah?" yet there he was telling me to grab my stuff and come with him. "Daddy, where are we going?" I asked. "Home, to grab some clothes, toys, books and then you are coming with me." I was elated! I never looked back...

Driving across the nation in the backseat of our fading yellowed Dodged Dart was an adventure, I was responsible for making our lunches,(usually bologna or our main staple peanut butter and Velveeta cheese sandwiches, with carrots or celery sticks,) keeping the soda cold and talking to my dad so he wouldn't fall asleep. Hours were spent singing children songs from Disney World, songs from the 60's and artists my dad loved- Eddie Fisher, Simon and Garfunkle, and of course the King- Elvis. Traversing 2,173 miles across country we would randomly stop for breaks in remote towns - I loved exploring new places.

Our last stop before my new home of Orem, was Tooele, Utah or as we pronounced it- Tool ee. In a run-down gas station surrounded by mountains we were sternly corrected by a lightly hairy man that it was pronounced Toe-willa. While gathering supplies, I begged my dad for another souvenir spoon to give to my mom since we had bought one in each state we passed through; I found one with a large ugly seagull on it which my dad informed me was the state bird of Utah; it wasn't great but it was better than the square-with-the-right-top-corner-cut-out spoon; which was Utah's shape on a map. Never saying no, to me, his eldest daughter, dad bought the spoon and stuck it in the trunk with the other souvenirs.

The last hour of our trip was the hardest of all- I couldn't wait to see my heart faced, cow-licked, toe-head of a baby sister, get squeezes from my step-mom Jayne or have my brothers spin me around in their arms like they had so many times before but most of all I was anxious to be in a home where there was laughter, conversation, hugs, kisses and where love abound. This is what my dad gave to me when on his 14 day round trip journey... he proved that I was one of the most important people in the world and I was WANTED.

Procrastination: What have you learned from this?

Anyone who knew me as a child or young adult knows that I am a chronic procrastinator- it thrills me to no end to have the rush of producing a great piece of work In the wee hours of the night or breaking dawn- which is more of a sleepless night situation not waking up early like most folks (someday I might just listen to Big Ben Franklin and try the Early to bed- Early to rise suggestion but that's for another day's discussion)!

This past week has been no exception. I started out very early in the plan and implementation stage of writing my American Nation Government paper. Borrowed books from the college library in mid October and that led to reading like a fiend on everything about Lyndon B. Johnson whom I didn't know anything about as a president (except that he came off as cruel after J.F.K died making Jackie stand on Airforce One to be present at his Oath of Office). While doing that reading I was also speed reading for more information on the New Deal of F.D.R. which I knew about from reading books in the past on him and his wife Eleanor.
Needless to say, I thought I was pacing myself fairly well.

Speed forward to Tuesday and Wednesday of this week- I had written 1200 words of my required 2500 word or 10 page paper and had stalled on what more to say... This for me is maddening because when am I short of word usage?

I ended up having Matt read over those 1200 words and playing with scenarios in my head about what angle I could take to extend the paper, when nothing- I mean nothing presented itself. So, I walked away from it until Tuesday evening... 1500 words, 2000- then nothing again. Matt re-reads, makes grammar corrections and I edit what needs to be fixed still 400 words short and I need to close the darn thing but after class that day we were told we couldn't end with a quote and that did me in. I had my closing in my head which had a quote and now I am being told this can't be done?!

Argumentative as I am, I approach Professor Thompson and give him my many reasons for being stalled on the paper and what the situation was. I was informed that I was not the type of student he was worrying about with the quote quota and so I was given permission to write my ending with a short quote as planned!

Wednesday night- 400 words still short! Paper due tomorrow morning 11 a.m. man things were not going my way. When all of a sudden @ 1 a.m. it hits me and I type furiously and find out I have 2705 words! I wake Matt up (he was a trooper,)to have him edit the paper and I finish with 2568 words and 4 sentences over 10 pages...
paper uploaded to Turnitin.com a website that checks for plagiarism and the hard copy printed out with complete bibliography and I am off to lalaland.- yeah right; my brain will not shut off and now I am thinking of other things Is should've added to the paper. Geez why is my brain always so brilliant at the worst times? Well, it's turned in and there is nothing I can do about it now. I am resigned to getting a B on my paper. We will see how I really fare...

-This is how I feel today.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Memoir in 600 words or less

It was the summer of 1974 and just like Neil Young's hit song, I wanted to be On The Beach. I was five years old craving to stand on the fringes of the toasted-marsh mellow- sandy-waters edge and count how long the incoming and receding water would take to cover my feet. My cool teenaged brothers refused to take me, their desire was running to the school playground, letter L sticks in hand and hit a little round rubber black disk across the hardtop while curving and racing around on 4 wheeled shoes not taking "Bimm" to the beach. Resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to be living the life of a beach baby, I drudgingly tagged along with my brothers like always.

The playground on the edge of where my brothers were playing hockey with their friends held a draw for me. I was wearing my favorite mustard yellow shirt with the letters S-A-N-D-Y on the front- people weren't afraid of children wearing their names anywhere on their personage in those days. My best friends Rosa and Patrick were already at the school ground when I arrived and so I challenged them to a race; the ultimate thing to do on that hot sticky playground for me was to jump up onto the black banana shaped seat hold onto the rusty silver chain and pump my legs like crazy to beat my friends higher into the air. As usual, I am the last to get the loft - I have shorter legs than the other two- but with a soaring spirit and blond piggy tails flapping behind me, I reach the threshold of height the swing will allow me to go and I am in heaven... sometime later I hear my name called and there is my step-mommy Jayne- she has heard that I wanted to go to the beach and came to take me there. I say goodbye to my friends and run off after mommy.

Holding hands we skip along singing 'A tisket, A tasket, a green and yellow basket,' to the beach blocks away. As we make our way through dolphin playground to the beach we talk about everything- friends, my brothers, my dad and his bike riding and her work at the local grocery store. We arrive at the beach and I notice she has a beach bag and picnic basket. We settle our belongings near the Lifeguard stand. I am in love with the Lifeguard stand- it looks like such a great place to sit and feel important- grownup. We take a little break to eat lunch. While munching on chunky peanut butter and velveeta cheese sandwiches we soak in the sun. Drinking warming milk from a cardboard milk container, I start aching to get to the water. I beg to go.. mommy knows that I can't sit still anymore... So off we go!

Mommy points out shells as we dance to the waters edge, my toes are tingling with anticipation, stepping into the water; I feel as if there is no where in the world I would rather be than here in this moment. We stand dead still, digging our toes deeper into the wet slimy sand to help the process and while we stand there, my mommy tells me about the day that I was born not under her heart but in it. This is the day that I learn about unconditional love, the day that a woman named Jayne showed me that no matter who gave birth to me I was her daughter.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Writing a short story or Can I take that Nanowrimo story and actually finish it?

I am wondering if I should take my NaNoWrimo story and try finishing it... I am not sure if I am in love with the topic or if I should revamp it. I love the character Lacy and her psychiatrist. I love the Title : Confession of a Habitual Liar. But, I might have to change the format. Right now it is in letter writing format. I need to re-think that.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Last Shuttle Launch- Atlantis

A little note that I put on the NASA website, just thought I need to thank them is all…
On Jul 8, 2011 9:56 AM Guest from FLA wrote:
Thank you NASA for the wonderful job all of you have done for minds like mine who have dreamed about the stars and wondered what is beyond our beautiful world. You have added joy to my family thru Shuttle launches over the years and I am proud to be an American who has supported you since I was 8 years old! God speed to Atlantis and God bless all of you in your new endeavors on the next stage of Exploration!

We have had many wonderful memories and I want to post a few pictures from over the years...

DF #9

So, we studied Jonathan Edwards from Colonial times with a focus on Calvinism and Puritanism and here is what I wrote:

Online Discussion: Participate in weekly online discussion regarding Jonathan Edwards/Calvinism in early America. How would you feel if you listened to Edwards give the sermon “Sinners …”? How do you define “Calvinism”? How are Calvinism and Puritanism related? So what? What does Edwards have to do with Hawthorne? Melville? Thoreau? Emerson?  How does our American history seem unique because of its Calvinist heritage? How is that history clearly evident today? What kind of person is the ideal person, according to the Reverend Mr. Edwards? Do you see correlations with Hawthorne’s view of humanity? What kind of a person shrivels up and dies, symbolically and/or literally, according to Mr. Melville? Draw a valid conclusion about all the answers your reach. How is this text singularly American? Who living today might remind you of Edwards?

7/6/2011 | 5:42 PM

Calvinism and the Fear of God in Early American History

Rating: --Author: Brower, Sandra

Jonathan Edwards as my reverend in our modern era would have lost me as a member of his church.  As I was reading "Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God," my heart started racing and my pulse was beating so hard I could hear it in my ears. I felt as if there was no point to having faith in God if he could just on a whim decide to let me go out of his hands and I could end up in Eternal Damnation without some kind of covenant made between He and I. His God didn't sound loving to me at all! But, then I realized I missed a few key sentences with my usual mode of attacking a first reading and I had not read Mr. Edward's biography yet. I missed the spirit of this man’s sermon. “Thus are all you that never passed under a great change of heart, by the mighty power of the Spirit of God upon your souls.” (McMichael, 287) If we have a “great change of heart” we are able to have the Spirit of God and then we are now the elected beings that we were predestined to be.  Mr. Edwards was not the “beastly brayings,” (McMichael, 264) type of preacher that I initially saw; he was a tell-it-like-it-is, calm and steady voiced preacher who “…sought to teach men and women their utter dependence on God and to arouse their yearning for an inner sense of God’s spirit." (264) I am sure that his congregation felt the spirit of his message from the honesty of his words even if they felt they were being terrorized by the message of it like I did.

Calvinists hold the belief that God is omnipotent, the all mighty I AM. He is the Power of the entire universe and without being converted through The Holy Ghost a believer is just a “natural” sinner who has no way to get back to the Eternities but will end up in Hell. Calvinists believe that they are “Elected” before being born and that their sins are wiped away if they are part of that predestination through Christ’s Atonement. The Elected are given irresistible grace throughout their life and are thus “saved” for the Eternities. (B.A.Robinson)

Puritanism and Calvinism are in fact based on the same religion- Puritan’s were a group of people who believed in the Christian religion, Protestantism, but wanted it to be “purer” (hence the name Puritan,) because the Protestants from the Church of England still used rituals from the Catholic church. (Burton) American Puritans separated from the Protestant church in England and Calvinists were also separatists from the Protestant church when John Calvin reformed the Protestant theology in Geneva Switzerland and it was named Calvinism. The only difference that I could tell between the two was that Puritans saw their religion as more of a personal responsibility to make the covenants with God wherein they would find Grace from God, and as I said before Calvin’s believed they were predestined. 

Many of Hawthorne’s stories were about the Colonial times that Edwards lived in. He constantly writes about Puritan life and Christianity and their view on good vs. evil. Edwards was a Calvinist preacher who taught about inherent sin, focused on good vs. evil. Both used Imagery to get their message across. In a lighter vein; both men were married to women with the initials S.P. J

All the authors that we have studied thus far are Americans born in New England. They were transcended in their intellectual thinking and just like Edwards had a “Great Awakening” in their lives. All these men believed that a higher being was in control, but that they were individually responsible for their choices. America was formed based on the fact that all people were free to worship the way they wanted. Pilgrims/ Puritans left England for that very belief. The author’s we have studied so far believe this very idea. Historically, the formalness of being a Puritan carried over into the nation, and the religious portion was taught in churches. We still have glimpses of that today in our time, Christianity abounds in the numerous churches throughout the nation, our holidays, our government traditions: the Pledge of Allegiance, our national anthem, prayers at our local meetings etc…

The ideal human according to Jonathan Edwards would be someone who acknowledged the hand of God in all that he was and did. He would be intellectual, virtuous and enduring in their quest for Heaven through their life. Hawthorne also believed that a person needed to endure through life no matter what the situation that they are faced with. Ironically, I don’t know if he did so well on this himself by hiding out socially, but he wrote about facing your fears. Herman Melville so eloquently showed this in his novella, “Bartleby.” Poor Bartleby "preferred not to"  adapt to the changes in his life and thus became more and more like a ghost in the world, eventually he just “shriveled up and died” because the will to endure was lost internally. He seemed to not have a faith based on any higher power and thus had no way to draw inwardly for strength to endure. (McMichael, 1374)

American’s are people who don’t back down without a fight, we are confident, we keep pushing along and we stand for all that we believe in and are free to believe in what or who we want to. But, we are also able to change if we are shown a better way.  Mr. Edward’s sermon “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God,” shows how diligent a person must be to not fall down the slippery slope of sin. He wanted his congregation to fight to stay on the safe side of that slope acknowledging God’s hand in all that they do. He showed them another way to endure and expected them to do so. His final words show this, “Haste and escape for your lives, look not behind you, escape to the mountains, lest you be consumed.” (McMichael, 293) In other words, quickly change your ways, don’t look to the sins of your past and reach for higher levels of goodness so that you don’t waste the blessings you are given and receive a spiritual death.

I am Naive when it comes to men today who would remind me of Rev. Edwards. The only Evangelist preacher that I know about was when I was a child and that was the great Billy Graham. I don't feel that Billy Graham taught like Rev. Edwards, but then again he might have since my experience was a snippet on a television set. In our church we have lay men that teach in our classes and to the congregation and God is a God of Love who expects us to make our choices and it is up to us whether we return to his presence or not. 

Works Cited

B.A.Robinson. "Belief Systems within Christianity - Calvinism." 13 Jul 2002. religioustolerance.org. 02 07 2011 <http://www.religioustolerance.org/calvinism.htm>.

Burton, Edwin. "puritanism, puritans." May 1997. BELIEVE Religious Information Website. 03 07 2011 <http://mb-soft.com/believe/txc/puritani.htm>.

McMichael, George, et al. Anthology of American Literature. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc., 2007.

7/8/2011 | 10:13 AMRE: Calvinism and the Fear of God in Early American History

Rating: --Author: Robison, Cassandra

Flag: --Score: --

Dear Sandy,

This is a superior posting, perhaps your finest. You offer rich proof, well organized argument and well documented claims with ample textual proof.  I particularly love the graceful and sophisticated wording/syntax of these: "The ideal human according to Jonathan Edwards would be someone who acknowledged the hand of God in all that he was and did. He would be intellectual, virtuous and enduring in their quest for Heaven through their life." (would be their lives, plural)    Note the second sentence's graceful persuasion.

You are a scholar.

Dr. R.

Comment from peers:

7/7/2011 | 1:15 AMRE: Calvinism and the Fear of God in Early American History

Rating: --Author: L, Cassandra

This was a wonderful post to read. I agree with practically everything you said. I love how you went even further than I did in your description of the last line of the sermon, it was perfect. :) 

Comment to Peers:

7/7/2011 | 8:31 AMRE: Jonathan Edwards

I agree with your feelings of wanting to get out of the congregation if Edwards was my preacher. I didn't feel the drive of wanting to do better from it, I felt as if all was lost and there was no point in trying. It is interesting how some religious aspects change over time and now most religions have a fear of God but don't really fear him? Is the Westboro Church in Gainesville the ones that wanted to burn the flag against Islam ? I am eluded to the name of that church or it's history. I am just curious...

7/6/2011 | 7:56 AMRE: Jonathan Edwards

Rating: --Author: Brower, Sandra


I never even noticed about the reference that Rev. Edward's made about Nature. I love the use of the 2nd block paragraph that you used. I had an aha moment with that one. I think you are right about how Edward's sermon makes you realize (that if you are inspired by his words) that you need to make a choice. Maybe that is why I was so anxious when I first read it. I thank you for opening my eyes to places that I over looked.

Comment from our Prof to other Peers---  I don’t know how I feel about these…

7/8/2011 | 10:18 AMRE: Jonathan Edwards

Hi Amanda, while what you do write is apt and shows some close reading, your post is too brief to answer all questions and earn a score higher than average.  Take a look at your peers who earned five stars like Lambert and/or Brower to see how to improve your postings in the future or how to revise and add to this one to earn a higher score.  Note that you need to reason step by step and offer textual proof.

I hope this helps you earn higher scores in this class and in others too.

Dr. R. : )

7/8/2011 | 10:20 AMRE: Jonathan Edwards

Hi Gerard, like I wrote to one of your peers above, what is here is apt and good, but your post is too brief to earn a higher than average score.  It's a shame as you are a good reader and thinker. You can increase your posting score this week and in future weeks by (a) reasoning step by step (give us more detail and thought) and (b) offering adequate textual proof. Take a look at your peers' Lambert and Brower who earned 5 stars this week to see how to write a fully developed, adequately proofed and persuasive post, okay?  I know you can do it too. : )


Dr. R.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Gadgets, Gadgets, Gadgets…

Another thing that I am in love with that Pintrest makes easier to browse. My birthday/anniversary present from Matt. I love this IPAD2. Maybe the bike picture would make a good skin for this?!  yes, I admit it, I know that I am a little spoiled…


A blast from the past visited me off this ipad today. it looked a little something like this---


did you start hearing: la, la, la la, la la, la, la, la, la, laaaaa singing along in your head? I did…

Apple has some great stuff to offer. Now, I can bring this to school, withy my little red stylus I can write on it, I can type on it with my little rollout hot pink keyboard off of amazon ( I haven’t bought that yet, it is still in the decision mode…) and go to town.  I just need a cover but I want something unique, and even though I found this, BookBookiPad_shelf_headerit is WAY too expensive to buy, so I will either look on eBay or find a unique more inexpensive alternative. maybe just a sleeve is needed that I can get in my own fabric choice and line it with some artificial sherpa? If only I could find the sewing machine peddle…

Pintrest and I are in love…

Have you ever heard of Pintrest?  I had heard broken whispers, but never really knew what the big deal was, until I decided to post the question to

Curious- what the heck is PINTREST?!

and go an answer from the darling Aliza Randall aka the great giggle girl. because there can never been enough GG girls in my life…

    • Aliza Randall It's really great Sandi! I'm kind of obsessed with it right now! I think you would love it too! If you want an invite let me know!

      June 12 at 7:53pm · Like

  • Sandi Lynn Field Brower Aliza- YES please?!!! I want to See what the rave is all about!

Aliza sent me an invite and this is what I saw…


and dang was I heaven!  No more, having to save images and ideas to the computer taking up precious gbites or annoying Matt with my many CD’s of hobbies and wants… now it is all tucked nicely into it’s proverbial website bed!  I love how I feel like curling up in this site and just dream of the amazingness of it all.. Now, I can go and drool, get ideas and be inspired by someone else’s amazing photography talents without searching for so long. someone else has found the website and I can visit if I choose or not…

This is one of my favorite picture(s) that was found on Pintrest- I want to have this in my room, I want to have it as a skin for my laptop or iPhone… It is amazing. It is the epitome of my dream life- Except that it would also have a ton of books mingled in with the flowers in that basket.

bicycle with tulips      IMG_0039[1]


If you love creativeness--- you need to go there and sign up… www.pintrest.com  enjoy


If you are noticing that my DF #’s are not consecutive that would be because we had 2 weeks where we were working on readings since they were longer short stories. For instance reading Thoreau’s WALDEN .  I really enjoyed this section. Even though I didn’t get to read the whole thing as I would have liked. We were only assigned 3 chapters and then some Emerson pieces. But, I have downloaded them to the computer so that I can read them later. I also checked them out of the Library where I will have to return and then recheck out later.
It was hard reading Thoreau but I learned so much and it made me want to go visit the mountains or the woods for a week just to get away and enjoy undisturbed Nature!  But, we did take a trip down the Rainbow Springs river on inner tubes with friends the same week and so that really helped me out on the tranquil feel of what Nature can give, even though we were laughing and having fun throughout the whole thing.
Here are a few of the neat things we saw--- Armadillos!  They remind me of Piglet on the old Winnie the Pooh movie.
The swimming hole at the end of the Springs. I guess the spring outlet is somewhere in the upper left corner. It’s a nice balmy 72 all year long.
Trebor trying to catch a lizard and also a shot of the whole group
Mckenna and Devon snorkeling
My dear friend Cindy- who by the way is chastising me for not getting in the water. There was a nice Alligator warning sign off the area  boggy area (that green area behind Cindy- see the little bouy rope off?)which I convinced myself was not what I wanted to encounter while swimming. The inner tube float was enough for me thank you!
sorry, I didn’t get any pictures of the float itself- because I only had my phone, (which I got out of the car between the float and the swimming hole…) I need to invest in a cheap point and shoot for stuff like this since I don’t’ want to ruin my Nikon with water anywhere near!
*Note to self- do this BEFORE you go to Palm Beach…

Now back  to the Discussion. Interestingly enough, I didn’t get a comment from my Professor on this entry which made me curious to see what she thought about a few things. so, I wrote her an email
Subject: Curiosity
Dr. R- I'm curious... Which Parties DO YOU think that Emerson and Thoreau would be a part of if they were alive today? Thanks, Sandi
here is her response:
I do not think they would be Republicans as our current Reps are leaning way too far to the right for our gentlemen scholars Emerson and Thoreau. I'm quite sure Mr. Thoreau would refuse to label himself as "any party" in particular though he would vote for the Green candidates, those who loved and protected Nature. If he had to choose between the two major parties, I think he would lean towards the Democrats although he would have arguments with them too! : ) Mr. Emerson would be a Democrat or a Civil Libertarian. He would tout Green causes. He was not much for personally taking care of the poor, a real character issue on his part in my mind, unfortunately. Other than that, he leans a tad left, I think. Your thoughts? Don't let politics or people's opinions on politics or religion shake you, girl. Stay in the coolly objective air of scholars. : ) Dr. R.
my response back so she didn’t think that I was wanting to use her opinion…
6/25/2011 12:04:46 AM
Brower, Sandra
RE: Curiosity
As per my DF #6 thoughts: In the Lecture Self- Reliance, Emerson stated that “Self-existence is the attribute of the Supreme Cause, and it constitutes the measure of good by the degree in which it enters into all lower forms.” He also said that “A man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he may work,” we all know that working for our freedoms is part of being self-reliant and so with both these statements, I would believe that Emerson might not have been part of either main Political Party namely Democrat or Republican, but might have been more of a Libertarian. "A Libertarian’s top priority is to increase individual liberty and responsibility, Shrink government, reduce taxes and Liberate education, commerce and personal choice." (Libertarian Party) “That government is best which governs least.” Thoreau probably would’ve been more supportive of the Green Party ticket since his stance on passive non-conformity fits a little better with this political party. "The Green Party stand for peace, social and economic justice, nonviolence, grassroots democracy, respect for diversity, women’s rights and protection of the environment." (GPCA Platform 10 Key Values) Thoreau was jailed for not paying his poll taxes; his book Civil Disobedience influenced not only Martin Luther King Jr. but also Gandhi. (McElroy)
I never let other people's opinions sway mine. I will listen, pull out what I agree with and try to learn and digest the rest and sift it out if it still doesn't sit well with my values. I have learned since moving from Utah 2.5 year ago to be more tolerant of other's views. Since we lived in a bubble while living there. Moving here has been a great thing for my two younger kids who also have learned that it takes all kinds of people to make a great environment, not just those who believe the way you do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and inspiring me to always reach higher. I was just curious because I didn't get a comment from you in our discussion forum and wanted to know what you thought about the political part... :)
Have a great weekend, Sandi
p.s. I am going to Hemingway's Key West home for the 2nd time in a year in a few weeks. This time the kids get to take the tour and then they are going to read THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. Both kids are in HS and will be taking Honor class. My son, Kyler is a SR. and he has to read Frankenstein and two other classics this summer, but I thought Hemingway would be great also. Is there a better Hemingway you think he might like? I don't think he would like A SUN ALSO RISES. ~S~
And as any good Literature Lover would do, she gave me that recommendation:
Sandi, I recommend the novella The Old Man and the Sea. He will like that. If it must be full novel size, I recommend For Whom the Bell Tolls. I love your answer. Well done. Talk to you more soon. I'm off with my son and his wife today.

Online Discussion: What qualities in Thoreau and Emerson identify these writers and thinkers as Transcendentalists? If Emerson and Thoreau were alive today, which political party would each probably belong to? Explain your answers thoroughly. Describe the ideal American according to Emerson. Describe the ideal American according to Thoreau. Discuss how Nature is emblematic to understanding God in both writer’s works. How are these men uniquely American spirits? Does America still believe and support such philosophy as expressed in these major works of the 19th Century
6/19/2011 | 3:12 AM Transcending Thought
Rating: --Author: Brower, Sandra
Flag: --Score: --
I believe that Thoreau and Emerson’s main quality that showed them as Transcendentalists was to think deeper and focus on the root of all that’s entailed in this world and in our souls. Their thinking transcended to the Heavens and didn’t bother with the minutia of worldly cares when it came to belongings, working to have those belongings and conforming to other’s way of thinking.  Emerson believed that we were not to just exist but that we were meant to provide for ourselves. We are not to be lazy, we are meant to be self-sufficient in our living and that is by learning to do things. "Skill to do comes of doing.”
Both men truly loved to be out in the world of what God gave to us, or as Emerson stated, “…give us a delight in and for themselves,” when he was describing the beauty of the natural world. Thoreau so beautifully described in WALDEN from the chapter entitled, “Solitude” of the natural world in which he was surrounded while living at Walden Pond, “This is a delicious evening, when the whole body is one sense, and imbibes delight through every pore… as I walk along the stony shore of the pond in my shirt-sleeves, though it is cool as well as cloudy and windy…all the elements are unusually congenial to me.”  Both men believed that no man should reign over another man and this was proven by their view towards Slavery. Emerson wrote many a lecture on this topic and it was not always viewed favorably. Thoreau’s question in Walden resonated with me when it comes to how we deal with our fellow man, “Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?” (Thoreau) Does it resonate with you?
In the Lecture Self- Reliance, Emerson stated that “Self-existence is the attribute of the Supreme Cause, and it constitutes the measure of good by the degree in which it enters into all lower forms.” He also said that “A man is fed, not that he may be fed, but that he may work,” we all know that working for our freedoms is part of being self-reliant and so with both these statements, I would believe that Emerson might not have been part of either main Political Party namely Democrat or Republican, but might have been more of a Libertarian.  A Libertarian’s top priority is to increase individual liberty and responsibility, Shrink government, reduce taxes and Liberate education, commerce and personal choice. (Libertarian Party)
“That government is best which governs least.” Thoreau probably would’ve been more supportive of the Green Party ticket since his stance on passive non-conformity fits a little better with this political party. The Green Party stand for peace, social and economic justice, nonviolence, grassroots democracy, respect for diversity, women’s rights and protection of the environment. (GPCA Platform 10 Key Values) Thoreau was jailed for not paying his poll taxes; his book Civil Disobedience influenced not only Martin Luther King Jr. but also Gandhi. (McElroy)
According to Emerson, the Ideal American would have been someone who was self-reliant, an individual thinker “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people think,” someone who believes that all men are created equal, “The likeness in them is more than the difference.” He also would want that American to be principled, “Nothing can bring peace but yourself. Nothing can bring peace but the triumph of principle.” I believe that he would also think the ideal American would be someone that respected differences in belief systems, because he greatly appreciated all religions which are shown throughout his writings; he talks about the Bible, and Mythology, and points out that the entire world is filled with a Spirit.
Thoreau’s Ideal American is a little more Anarchist than Emerson’s. Thoreau would have an American be an individual who is not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and do whatever it takes to take that stand. He would have them be a person who worked to provide for what is needed but not to have belongings, “…Men labor under a mistake. The better part of the man is soon plowed in the soil for compost. By a seeming fate, commonly called necessity, they are employed, as it says in an old book, laying up treasures which moth and rust will corrupt and thieves break through and steal.” which would clutter the freedom of speech and thought, “Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”
Thoreau would also have the Ideal American, like Emerson, be a principled person, “If one listens to the faintest but constant suggestions of his genius, which are certainly true, he sees not to what extremes, or even insanity, it may lead him; and yet that way, as he grows more resolute and faithful, his road lies.” This principled American would be full of virtue and purity, “There is never an instant’s truce between virtue and vice. Goodness is the only investment that never fails.” He would want someone who is self-reliant and a free thinker, “I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible; but I would have each one be very careful to find out and pursue his own way and not his father’s or his mother’s…”  
Nature is emblematic to understand God because as taught by Dr. Robison in my ENC1102, “The whole is greater than its parts,” I believe that the nature of words in the world is not as great as the nature of the spirit or of nature as a Whole. We are to understand that metaphorically the Word when mentioned in the BIBLE is God and the World is his school ground. So, when we go into Nature we smell, hear, see, taste and experience entirely what God has created, “Every object rightly seen, unlocks a new faculty of the soul.” 1]We are taught that our spirit is the same as that of what the spirit of the world is, “The world proceeds from the same Spirit as the body of man.” As Emerson told us in Chapter VII of NATURE labeled “SPIRIT,” “The Happiest man is the one who learns from nature the lesson of worship.” We feel reverence when we step into nature the beauty of what is created is manifested a hundred times more to us in the quiet, solitude of all that we are encapsulated by. Thoreau said it best “What do we want most to dwell near to?...the perennial source of our life,” which is God.
Both Emerson and Thoreau are uniquely American because unlike living in other parts of the world, they could write what they learned in their years of study and contemplation on life. They were not beholden to any laws that prevented them from disappearing from the community, they were not told what they could and couldn’t say or do and most of all, they were free to worship as they pleased without fear of imprisonment or worse death. Unlike other nations who condemned freedom of worship, thought or speech and stifled ones creativity with ridged rules, these men were able to be free to create. They truly were independent thinkers who thought on a higher realm and transcended the thinking of what the Americans considered living.
I am certain that there are many Americans who still believe the philosophy of Emerson and Thoreau. I just think that we on a whole today are more conformist than both of them were, we follow the crowd, we are afraid to think for ourselves when it comes to what would be considered different. We should be quick to remember what Thoreau said, “We belong to the community. It is not the tailor alone who is the ninth part of a man, it is as much the preacher, and the merchant, and the farmer. Where is this division of labor to end? And what object does it finally serve? No doubt another may also think for me; but it is not therefore desirable that he should do so to the exclusion of my thinking for myself.” I know right now that American’s are unhappy with their government, they feel hopeless, they feel as if they are being let down, but are afraid to do anything about it. We didn’t think as we made our choices (whether Democrat or Republican,) for who we wanted to run our country by what our true beliefs are. Maybe, there were people who were fooled by the mantra of the present administration, but I think that on a whole the nation followed the “feel good, let’s make history” band wagon blindly and never really thought about what was being promised and how it could be achieved.  I do believe that people are becoming more tolerant of each other’s differences and might just be about the business of trying to take care of themselves and not tell others how to live and so in that respect we still agree with the philosophy that we “look through each other’s eyes for an instant” to better understand each other than we have in the past. But, when it comes to the religious beliefs we have gotten far away from what Emerson and Thoreau believed. They believed in a higher power, whatever we tend to call that power, and the freedom to believe in whatever we choose; where now there is no tolerance, people want to change what the Founding Fathers designed and seem to get ugly when someone believes differently from what the other person does which tends to cause contention among the masses.

1]Samuel Jackson Coleridge as Quoted in NATURE by Emerson
Works Cited
GPCA Platform 10 Key Values. 14 10 2006. 17 06 2011 <http://www.cagreens.org/platform/10k.shtml>.
Libertarian Party. n.d. 17 06 2011 <http://www.lp.org/introduction/what-is-the-libertarian-party>.
McElroy, Wendy. Henry David Thoreau and “Civil Disobedience,” Part 1. 25 07 2005. 17 06 2011 <http://www.fff.org/freedom/fd0503e.asp>.
McMichael, George, et al. Anthology of American Literature. 9th Ed. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education Inc., 2007.
Schulman, Frank. Dictionary of Unitarian & Universalist Biography. 1999-2011. 18 06 2011 <http://www25.uua.org/uuhs/duub/articles/ralphwaldoemerson.html>.
Thoreau, Henry David. Walden or Life in the Woods and On the Duty of Civil Disobedience. Cutchogue,: Buccaneer Books, Inc., 1986.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The desire to cross stitch is running through my veins

I don't know what it is about me wanting to cross stitch after so many years of  NOT cross stitching. Decades actually, but I for some reason am desiring do do so. But, what I want to cross stitch is alluding me. I was think Harry Potter so that It is ready for our Halloween Party in October, but really, do I want to cross stitch something now for that far ahead in time?

I think that I might want to cross stitch something that I can frame and put up permantly in the house. I am going to continue to look. Should I go for a Salt Lake Temple, Flowers, Books, a Bicycle or what?

here are some options:


A few Gilmore Girl Sayings to Cross Stitch-

 I can go from zero to studying in less than sixty seconds. 

College is breaking my spirit. Every single day, telling me things I don't know. It's making me feel stupid.

How often do you get to see teenagers speak iambic pentameter and kill themselves?

Paris, please don't compare our reading times again. You're fast, I'm slow, enjoy your trophy.

Walk as you babble please

Crazy people. Whole town should be medicated and put in a rec room with ping pong tables and hand puppets.

 This is a misogynistic truck.
: What?
: It's anti-woman, it's gender-selective, it's "Oh, let's drink a beer and watch the game and hike our shorts up."

Reality has absolutely no place in our world.

 People are particularly stupid today. I can't talk to any more of them. 

Call me Belinda, 'cause my lips are sealed!

I am a grown woman. Says the woman with the Hello Kitty waffle iron.

Some people like getting up early.  You lie.

I'm going to have to pick on of the Girlmore girls ones besides the Reading Is SexyHow often do you get to see teenagers speak iambic pentameter and kill themselves?That'll do pig.College is breaking my spirit. Every single day, telling me things I don't know. It's making me feel stupid.  And for Lisa:  This from a woman with a Hello Kitty waffle iron

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Discussion #4 or the hardest read I've had thus far...

Well, I had to wait two days to see how my last analysis of  "Bartleby the Scrivener" was going to be grade and this was (sad to admit,) my most anguising wait yet for any grade so far this year... I had to read "Bartleby the Scrivener" 5 times and still agonized over if I was getting the point to the whole theme. I spent 5 hours on Saturday morning trying to get the paragraphs right, even though I had spent all week long reading and writing and taking notes. I just couldn't for the life of me, get my words out.  So, to my surprise- today when our grades came out, I was so happy to see what my Professor put. Yes, I have something to learn and I am up to the challenge of relearning the proper way of doing MLA citations for references. I mean isn't this what I am going to school for to better myself?  I Think that Melville is so hard to read for me, even more than lets say Hawthorne who I struggled with when I first read his works other than The Scarlet Letter (which was not hard for me and I read in  6th grade.) I tried reading Moby Dick once and couldn't get past the first chapter so gave up on it, thinking that "well, this story is for boys anyway." I guess I better read Moby Dick again since it is a classic...
I did ask my professor in an email to help me with what was wrong with the citations. :-)

I guess it is good that I have some kind of reading that challenges me or what would be the point of educational reading?

Here are the instructions and questions we were supposed to answer:
Write a one paragraph character analysis of Bartleby and a one paragraph analysis of the first person narrator. Is the narrator reliable? Why or why not? What is Bartleby’s problem? Symbolically speaking, what does Bartleby reject? Consider Melville’s term “monomaniacal”; how might it relate to the novella’s characters and/or conflict? Consider Melville’s biography, including the fact that he lived and worked in a Customs House in New York City for 30 years after leaving Arrowhead Farm in 1862. NYC was becoming the financial heart of America’s economy and the area of Wall Street beginning to become prominent as New York City’s center of stocks, bonds, and business. How might any of those facts apply to Melville’s story? What does Melville intend with this story?

To Be or Not to be Personally Involved
Brower, Sandra
The antagonist “Bartleby the Scrivener” was a “pallidly neat, pitiably respectable, incurably forlorn…” quiet gentleman who came to work for the protagonist, a lawyer who is also the first person narrator. Bartleby was a perfect employee until he was asked to help in going over his work, where he calmly stated “I would prefer not to,” curiously an unusual response from an employee to a boss. The boss inquired as to why and not getting a satisfactory answer he decided not to push the issue further and went on his way.  Bartleby continues to “copy” well until he is asked again to help review his work, this time with his fellow employees, to this he replies the same as before.  This time, however, his boss blows up and gets the other employees involved, and yet doesn’t fire Bartleby. After this Bartleby slowly stops writing his copies and “prefers not to” do any work at all. I can only fathom that by this time Bartleby is frustrated with his boss, who he might believe is asking more of him than what he was hired to do. It’s as if Bartleby is protesting by saying, “I am working so what is the problem? But since you want more I will now stop doing anything at all.” Anybody in Bartleby’s situation might not be able to work in the conditions he did; Four walls, 2 of which were temporary and dull in color while the other a low-light producing window staring at a black brick wall from the building located not more than 10 feet away. I envision this looking like the modern day small, drearily-cold cubical which was abundant in my father’s business. Even though he might have preferred it, Bartleby has no interaction with the other employees except for seconds with “Ginger Nut” who brings him a few nuts each day, and of course the interaction with his boss. Who can be happy being isolated like this? My dad worked on Wall Street, and having lived in New York I know a little bit about the isolation that one can have by spending time within the buildings there. I was recently in N.Y.C. and can give you a semi feeling of what it would be like with the adjacent building right near you.
 The boss decides to quit his address.  When Bartleby refuses to leave the office after it is found out that he has been living in there since he was hired.  It wasn’t uncommon for him to make the Lawyer’s clients and peers uneasy which threatened his employer’s career. Bartleby continues to live in the office even after a new tenant moves in. He is unable to be talked out of leaving even after his old boss warns him that something drastic could happen. He ends up being taken to prison where he refuses to eat and dies an even more lonely man. The reader doesn’t know anything about this young man’s previous life until the very end of the story where we are informed unreliably that he might have worked in the “dead letter office,” in Washington.  
The elderly “unambitious lawyer,” who is also the protagonist first person Narrator, seems to hire unusually quirky men to work for him. He describes himself as “a man who, from his youth upward, has been filled with a profound conviction that the easiest way of life is the best.” I personally believe that he hired these types of men where as other employers might not have, because he was a kind hearted man.  Ironically, he doesn’t do the easiest way when he gets involved in Bartleby’s quirks.  Why does he do this with Bartleby when doesn’t do this with his other employees?  He just lets their eccentricities be when they were at their worst and maybe this would have been the thing to do with Bartleby.  While the Narrator tells Bartleby’s story he seems to come off monomaniacal when it comes to what Bartleby is doing. Would he have been so focused on him if he had let Bartleby work where the other employees worked? I don’t think he wouldn’t have--he would have just fired Bartleby after refusing to do the rest of his work.  During the time of Herman Melville’s living and working in New York, (as it was with my dad’s time, the employer relationship with employees would probably have been the same); an employer expected his employees to do their job, not wanting to get involved personally with them and have them come and go in an orderly manner each day. The narrator goes beyond the norm when it comes to Bartleby and in the end while Bartleby’s life expires, his life become more enriched by having cared.
I think this story is a direct expression of Melville’s working in the Custom House on Wall Street. He traveled the seas, he lived on a farm in the wide open and as his career was dying down he lives in a “silent period,”[1]where he isolates himself to a four walled room in the biggest city in America just like Bartleby. Ironically like the 2 eccentric characters of “Turkey” and “Nippy,” Hawthorne and Melville are the flipside of each other’s lives; where Hawthorne’s career is building Melville’s is waning.[2] Does Melville try to tell the reader that corporate life is dreary, deadening and heartless and that the employer has all the control? Or is he trying to get the reader to think about how we choose to interact with others no matter where they live, what their background and whether they “prefer not to” do anything with their life? Depression as Bartleby seems to have is a huge impact in Melville’s life; one of sons commits suicide, the other dies and Melville himself suffers from depression throughout his life, so all in all, this Novella is impacted directly by the author’s worldview and his biography.
*I find it interesting that Melville refers over and over again to The Narrator’s inadverntant focus on Rome- Cicero’s bust, the reference to Marius Caius and to any other government entity such as Samuel Adams. Is he saying that Rome was a great government and then fell and that is what might happen to corporate America? I am not sure but I did find it interesting…
1 Cohen, Hennig . "Herman Melville Biography." UNet Users' Home Pages. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2011. .
Works cited
McMichael, George. "Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener." Anthology of American Literature. Ninth ed. Saddl
Cohen, Hennig . "Herman Melville Biography." UNet Users' Home Pages. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 June 2011. .

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  • RE: To Be or Not to be Personally Involved
    Robison, Cassandra
    Dear Sandy,
    This is a superior post that proves your ability to think critically in the highest sense.  Your questions regarding the fall of Rome as analogous to the possible fall of America is right on target. Melville had both admiration and disdain for an economy based on money, business and greed.  I love your quotes and research. (Note that a couple citations did not come out right).  Your writing was graceful and persuasive; the photo of NYC illustrates how those who work in huge buildings are "walled in" by Wall St. and the lives they lead.
    Well done! Another A for you.
    Dr. R.
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  • RE: To Be or Not to be Personally Involved
    Cole, Alisha
    I agree with you, that Bartleby's character trait of depression was most likely based off of the men in Melville's family, includng Melville, himself.  Also, the offices and city life in the story of Bartleby was, indeed, surely influenced by Melville's time working at the Custom House.  Your opinions have caused me to realize that perhaps Bartleby was Melville, himself.  Perhaps that character was a manifestation of how the author was feeling at the time.  Depressed and not wanting to do anything.  Prefering not to go on with his life.  I have found that just as setting can serve as a muse, a person's feelings and their mood can provide them with just as powerful an inspiration.  Thus, perhaps, he was the character of Bartleby and what that charater's actions were, he desired to be his own.  To reject the accepted way of life and just do nothing, until his death.  But, because he felt the weight of reality and responsibility on him, he could not and thus, lived out his feelings and desires through the character of Bartleby.
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    • RE: RE: To Be or Not to be Personally Involved
      Brower, Sandra
      That was very inciteful... I really didn't take it as far as making Bartleby a replication of Melville, and i find that fascinating because it gave me more to think about. yes, Muse is everything to a writer, especially when you see that most of his famous work was written about his sea travels. It's interesting to me that Melville's works after moving back to NY completely stopped being read by anyone. He was such a success, and then nothing at all... He still wrote but I think that his writing was flattened just like your spirit can be when you are surrounded by 4 walls daily for numerous hours. I wonder why he would have done had he not had a family, and Hawthorne to carry him through his life. I guess that is why having friends and loved ones make life so much more worthwhile!
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate your views and always look forward to reading them.