Written Pieces

Final Drafts are in the individual project folders.

Drafts are in chronological order here, starting with the Remediation “Count Down to Crash”

 

REMEDIATION:

Count Down to Crash

Three hours before: My sister and I are buckling our seatbelts for the ride home from our cousin’s wedding in Iowa. One last road trip together, alone, before she leaves for college. Two hours before: my eyelids are getting heavy and I slip into a dream. One hour before: I wake up to the sound of my sister singing to a Tim McGraw song, as we drift easily on Highway 151 on a sunny summer afternoon. My feet have fallen asleep, so I kick them up on the dashboard. Five minutes before: something tells me to drop my feet from the dashboard—it’s not safe. Five seconds before: I am startled by the sound of our tires screeching; a cacophony of horns honking, and my sister’s screams. And. Then. It. Happened. We slammed into a car stopped on the road.

My senses were flooded with nervous fear. My head lurched forward, propelling my entire body towards the windshield at twenty miles and hour. Because every action has an equal and opposite reaction, the corresponding back slam knocked me senseless.  Relieved that we were okay, I peered over at my sister and quickly realized that it wasn’t over.

My sister was starring into the rearview mirror with a look of pure terror on her face—we were about to get rear-ended by an SUV that clearly had no intensions of slowing down. Suddenly, every ounce of mass in my body went tight—my neck, my back, my arms, and my feet. Everything. I shut my eyes and prayed we would be okay, that we’d make it out of this car alive. Everybody says your life flashes before your eyes in a near death experience—for me it was just the opposite. I pictured my death.  And right as I was picturing the car blowing up in flames, a staggering surge of driving force passed though me. My body wanted to fly through the car but could not; my seatbelt would not let me go.  Glass shattering, metal being ripped apart, more brakes squealing; the sound was deafening.  For as loud as it was when that SUV hit our car going sixty miles per hour, it was equally as quiet when everything came to a stop. That was the scariest part—the silence. I looked over at my sister and what I saw was something that will haunt me forever. Her face was completely covered with blood. I truly thought my sister was going to die.

At first she was quiet, and then she let out yet another piercing scream. When she saw me starring at her in horror, she asked me in a panic, “How bad is it? Am I going to die?” I didn’t know what to say, because quite honestly, I thought she might. I frantically reached behind me to what was left of the backseat, searching for something, anything, that we could press on her head to stop the bleeding. I finally found an old shirt and handed it to her to put over her face. That’s when it hit me, the most overwhelming sense of nausea I have ever experienced.  It was all I could do to roll over and try to wobble open the car door that had been bent out of shape when we hit the first car. It was like a sauna in that car, and when I told my sister I might throw up, she said, “me too,” and did, all over the car.

Soon after, a young man sprinted over from his car and asked my sister if she could roll down her window. He explained that he had called 911, but that he was an EMT, and he was going to do the best he could to help us until the ambulance arrived.  I asked if I could have somebody help me get out of the car, because the heat, the blood, the vomit, and the panic was getting to be too much for me to bear.             Apparently, car accident victims aren’t supposed to get out of their vehicle until the ambulance arrives unless they are in immediate danger by being in the car; so I had to stay put. My sister was drifting in and out of consciousness due to the extreme amount of blood being lost, and I could hear the concern in the EMT’s voice. He tried to keep her awake by asking her questions and at last, in what seemed to be hours, the ambulances arrived.  The quietness ended as the sirens blared and emergency crews worked frantically to extract us from what remained of the car.

My sister needed thirteen stitches to close the gaping wound on her face and miraculously did not suffer from a neck or spinal injury, as we all had feared.  I ended up with massive bruising from the seatbelt and some other minor contusions.  But, after three hours in the emergency room, two sets of worried parents racing to meet us at the hospital, and one totaled car, the count down ended.   As horrific as it was, I count this as the luckiest day in my life because my sister and I wisely chose to click on our seatbelts before setting off that sunny summer afternoon.

 

REPURPOSED:

Toddlers & Tiaras: A Moral Conflict Between Obligation and Rights

 

It’s irrefutable that child pageants cause numerous psychological and physical harms. With all of the scrutiny the industry receives, numerous studies have been done that looked at the negative effects child pageants can have on young girls, ranging from self-esteem issues to distorted body images (SITE). But even if we all agree it’s a terrible thing, what can we do to stop it? This conundrum presents itself as an extremely difficult question of morality—obligation versus rights. This conflict between our obligations to make a change, yet also allowing people to use their rights as citizens is very difficult. We have a responsibility to try to regulate or even stop a “sport” that is hurting children in such an obvious way; however, if we did decide that it should be regulated, where do we draw that line, and who’s to say that a third party is morally correct in drawing that line? On the other hand, this has been done before. Regulations in sports are common, just not in such a subjective manner.

There are plenty of other ways in which parents can regulate their own child’s actions that are similar to pageant life, like deciding when it’s time that they can appear “mature” and “adult-like”. Even “sexy”. When is it okay for a child to start wearing bikinis, or short dresses? What about go out on a date with another “child” who may or may not be interested in your child in a sexual way? Then looking at it from the organizational and legal side, how is pageantry different than sexualizing your child to the point of it bordering child pornography?

One option is to take it back to an earlier time—traditional pageantry. After all, child pageants started out as being relatively innocent. Girls would wear bows and frilly dresses, and there was no make-up, fake teeth, or seductive clothing in sight. Could this get rid of all of the problems with child pageantry?

If child pageants are to be made more age appropriate, there are certain conditions that they would need to meet to make them more acceptable. One suggestion is to put restrictions on the outfits they can be wearing during the pageant. One child made national news for her outfit that was, by no mistake, shockingly similar to the streetwalker outfit that was worn by the main actress in Pretty Woman. This skintight outfit featured a dress with a cutout stomach and knee high leather boots.  Can we say that the attire should cover their midriff? What about tightness and how low-cut the outfit is? How can we possibly make a cut off like that legally when it’s so subjective? Who has the right to monitor it, and how would that actually happen? In the case of the Pretty Woman outfit, it was both a bare midriff and very tight; however, who can judge exactly how tight is “too tight”. And this dress didn’t bare the whole midriff—only the sides were cut out. These are all questions that are very difficult to address in an objective mannar.

Another possible regulation could be put in place for the “talent” portion, where many young girls (and sometimes boys) do provocative dances. The most frequent controversies revolve around the age appropriateness of the music and choreography. Any music that makes sexual references could be banned, and choreography that is considered too sexual could be as well. However, this is also very difficult due to its subjectivity. Who’s to judge where they need to draw the line? One option would be that the judges make that subjective call on what’s inappropriate, and disqualify the child from the pageant; however, with how crazy these stage parents already are, that could cause much controversy.

Another option would be to put an age restriction on who can enter pageants. Right now, children are entering pageants as young as just a few days old, and continue until their 20’s. The difficulty with an age restriction is that if you make the cut off around 13 or 14, even those girls are immature and subject to scrutiny at an age when they are most vulnerable. But if the cut off were 18, that takes away a parents right to enter their child in an “activity” of their choice. Parents are always making judgment calls on when children are allowed to dress themselves, wear make-up, hangout with boys, etc. And is there really that big of a difference between a 13 and 14 year old? It’s important to consider that children mature at different rates, and this becomes especially relevant when talking about puberty.

The large uproar an age restriction like this would likely cause is certainly worth consideration, especially with how the scale of child pageantry in America. As of now, (SITE) X NUMBER of children under age eighteen are competing in pageants. To outright tell all of those parents that they can no longer have their children participate would be very controversial.

Another option would be to rule out aspects of child pageantry that are seen as being the most controversial. Things like this would include: make-up, hairspray, and “flappers”, but even then, we haven’t covered all the bases. We would still need to find a way to regulate tanning, waxing, etc. There is no way that we could make this a smooth process (could hide the fact that they are wearing make-up by having it be very subtle, and going around wiping off child’s faces to test it would be far too complicated and time-consuming.

DIET REGULATION How can we control diets? Many parents have been quoted for putting their children on calorie-restricted diets (site this), and there’s really no way of telling. Parents have the right to feed their children as they wish, and whether that’s a vegetable-filled, calorie restricted diet or one filled with fast food, who’s to say you can’t? One isn’t necessarily less healthy than the other. (Explore this further & include health consequences of both diets on children and fast food/overeating of children).

AUDIENCE RESTRICTION            If the concern is that there are members of the audience who are looking at the children as sexual objects, why not restrict the audience to family and friends only? Could register guests. If that were done, that would probably make parents uncomfortable because that’s’ almost like coming out and admitting that what your child is representing is controversial and needs to be protected in that strict of a fashion. Likely, child pageants would lose popularity and endorsements, which could lead to its ultimate failure. But…maybe that’s a good thing!

It seems that all of these seemingly “negative” sides of child pageantry are not easily regulated. With that, it may be that we just need to accept that.

 

WHY I WRITE:

 

I’m going to be frank—I’m no J.K Rowling. I’ve never written a top-selling fiction novel, nor can I write with little, if any, imperfection. Sure, I’m decent—I’m a student at the University of Michigan who has chosen to minor in writing, but in reality that holds little value in the real world. Many believe these are prerequisites to being a successful scholar, but in fact, successful writing comes from within, and cannot be explained by a great university or even a great minor. There are 1001 reasons why I write, but not even all of those reasons could fully clarify exactly why I love this. Although this unspoken love for writing I believe needs no explanation, but merely just to be, I will do my best to put my thoughts on paper so that someone can understand the beauty I see in writing, and why I will never be able to stop.

First and foremost, I write because it’s fun. I’m realistic enough to know that I will never be the best writer to ever live, or even the best writer in this class, but I don’t care.  It feels good to experience first-hand your mind translate a thought into an idea, that idea into a sentence, and so on, until somehow the sentences mold together to create a coherent message that can be understood, debated, loved, or hated by your reader—even if that reader is just yourself.  It’s fun to see your inner most thoughts appear on paper. Humans by nature are narcissistic beings, and the mere act of seeing a piece of work you’ve created causes myself to feel a certain sense of accomplishment and pride.

I write to problem solve. No one other than myself has read the majority of my writing. Why? Because usually it’s for my own use—it helps me understand others, the world, and myself in a deeper, more meaningful way. There’s something about reading your thoughts on paper that gives you a whole new outlook on something. If I have a problem that I can’t seem to decipher what’s right and what’s wrong, I’ll write about it. I can sit down with just dictate my thoughts onto the computer screen, with no rhyme, reason, or organization to any of it. Somehow, though, it all ends up making sense. I’ve not once had a problem that could not be solved through writing, and I think that’s quite profound. After all, writing requires no one other than your own mind and motivation to get your thoughts on paper. Why writing works so affectively is a mystery, one that doesn’t need to be solved. It just is.

I write because it’s an escape from the real world and the problems that consume it. Writing, like any other leisure activity, can take me away, whether it is for 3 minutes or 3 hours. When I’m writing I create my own reality. Through my thoughts I can take control of the paper and turn absolutely nothing into something magnificent. Writing bolsters my sense of inventiveness, which in the real world, is almost non-existent.  One of my favorite genres of writing is creative. It’s odd, because if someone were to ask me to tell a story while sitting around a campfire, my mind would go blank. However, if someone were to propose that I stop writing this, open a new document, and write a short story, I could do that in a heartbeat. And the whole time I was writing it, I would be consumed wholly by it, which I love.

I write because I can say a million things and then take them all back if I want to.  Writing allows me to reflect upon my own thoughts, revise them, and even completely change them, unlike speaking. When I speak, I only get a few seconds to share what’s on your mind, and once it’s out there, there’s no denying the words that were said. When I write, I write draft upon draft, in order to solidify my thoughts and ideas so that they are well informed, honest, and convincing.  I can mold my thoughts into a coherent argument or idea that can come across much more eloquently and clearly than if I were to just answer a simple question or tell a story off the top of my head. This question, ‘Why I Write’, is a perfect example of the beauty of the written word. If someone were to ask me on the street why I write, I could talk for days and still not come across with any fully developed answers to such a complex question. But here, I can explore my own mind, and as I write, it becomes more and more clear even to myself why exactly it is that I enjoy writing so much.  And that’s a beautiful thing.

Finally, I write to better myself. Everyone wants to be successful, and being a great writer is one way to get there. Writing is everywhere—whether you’re a scientist writing a research article, or a top-selling novelist like J.K Rowling, being a strong writer can only help you succeed. I want to feel like I can accomplish great writing in every genre, every situation, and with every type of audience. I’m not seeking mastery, but simply improvement, which to me, means I did my job as a writer. I will never give up writing—it’s an extension of myself that can’t be taken away. Writing can be both a gift and a curse, because once you begin, you will never be fully satisfied, craving more improvement every day. But it’s that precise desire that’s exactly what I love about it, and why I write.