Meditation on Flowers, Parking Lots, Trees

Living on the outskirts of the Geneseo dormitories, I took it easily upon myself to walk a small distance around my residence hall (Seneca), circling the few surrounding buildings and observing small pockets of nature and wildlife. During this past week particularly, I have taken special interest in the flowering white trees around campus—the type of tree, I am unsure of, but its small blossoms decorate the landscape almost entirely, and quite endearingly, and although they do not smell strongly I think of them with immense pleasure and often stop and note any changes to their size or frequency. I quite like how their branches frame the sky, and how unsparingly the buds bloom; having not experienced Spring in Geneseo before, I have been sure to notice how here, there seem so many trees that flower—at home, really, all I’ve noticed is the dogwood in a few parks. The branches of these nameless trees are curved and layered, and they bend angularly, with many kinks. The blossoms form in clusters, almost like how lupine looks and tapers, spear-like, but more rounded, and carrying more weight at the bottom.

While looking at one of the white trees that line a parking lot, I heard distantly the skitter of paper on concrete and turned to watch as a piece of scrap writing moved on the ground from afar. Though at some points it drew wide turns and appeared as though it were about to fly off, it would often return to its resting position, momentarily flipping over but always repositioning itself in what appeared to be some sort of ceaseless cycle. As I lifted my gaze from the paper, I was startled to find people adjacent to me, picnicking—sprawled out on their blanket, talking—as they were hidden by a few bushes, and I was, I discovered, distracted.

Briefly, I caught a glimpse of a bird in some nearby shrubbery; the small tree it hid in was sparse and just beginning to thicken with spring. It did not stay long, but watching as it held itself up against the wind was almost meditative, and as it flew off I was reminded of the warming weather that was to be soon returning. Close by, too, there were robins scattered across the grass, and they prodded endlessly at the ground as if it were going to let anything up. I wondered at their success and continued walking.

As I was returning to my room, I came across a walkway that appeared a bit neglected. It was covered in a thin layer of moss, something I have realized, here, I do not see often. There is ivy, weeds, small plants, and plenty of daffodils—little moss, however. The moss being surprisingly close to an entrance I often utilized, I wondered how often I had failed to notice the things right in front of me, the subtle but incessant workings of nature.

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Navigating the Digital World as a Female Student

Before beginning Lit & Lit Study in the Digital Age, I was unaware of the overwhelming influence of women in the software engineering profession and was oblivious to the fact that they essentially pioneered the creation of the first computer. I found my ignorance appalling, and in reading Broad Band, I have developed a better understanding of the relationship females have with technology. I found the idea that the word “girl” was once interchangeable with “computer” (24) both empowering and somewhat disquieting; I was shocked to find that their work reshaping the technological landscape was considered, for a long time, rudimentary. I took pleasure in reading the accounts of several glass-ceiling-shattering women in the field like Grace Hopper, though it was disheartening to hear about the failure of the world to acknowledge their triumphs and the general lack of respect paid to them. As I have entertained the idea of pursuing a minor in Women’s & Gender Studies, I believe I must always endeavor to better understand areas outside of my immediate academic interests where women are underrepresented (such as STEM). I like the fact that this class forced me, from the get-go, to confront my own biases in that I thought I was incapable of doing anything computer-related for a long time, shrugged it off, and said it simply wasn’t for me, a notion that festered rather paralyzingly in my brain and was rooted in some kind of internalized misogyny. On a similar note, I have found some striking parallels between my other English courses and this one: for example, the etymology and implications of words used commonly in computer jargon now like “manuscript” and “stereotypes”—even “ontology.” I was apprehensive about beginning this class as I thought it might stray too drastically from my other ones, that it would distract from my study of literature and overemphasize the growing digital aspect of it. I was wrong, and have since learned the two go hand-in-hand, that they are inextricable. As texts are digitized, I must grasp my changing relationship with them as a reader and scholar.

On the more practical side, I have learned how to better navigate my computer. I now know that my computer terminal exists and that I can interact with it in a number of ways, such as creating and monitoring my files and other activities. I am more comfortable exploring the functions of what I can do on my Mac and am better equipped to take advantage of all it can offer me, even at times googling fun commands to experiment with. It is also true that troubleshooting errors in my commands have become less nerve-inducing, as I was once irrationally afraid that I would somehow erase all of my data; now, I recognize that the software allows for mistakes and is, more often than not, forgiving. Also, I find it easier to ask for help now and trust that if I do make a mistake, there is likely someone able to aid me in remedying it.