Everything created by the world

The smell of fresh air sinks into my senses as I experience a breath of fresh air that I have not had in months. Sitting inside the same four walls for months upon end led me to appreciate this air more than ever. I sit and let the sun encapsulate my mind and body as I lay in the fresh green grass.

I had intended to read chapters and occupy my mind with academic thoughts, but that idea flew away as I experienced nature. How could one ignore a scene like this and bury their nose in a book? I frequently read and enjoy the act, but I enjoy this scene much more. Each of my senses experiences something new.

I can smell the fresh grass sprouting by the second, I can taste the freshness of the air, I can hear the bugs buzzing with glee, I can touch the prickly grass, and I can see a day that holds endless potential for me to expand into.

The mechanical sound of a lawn mower would normally bring annoyance to my mind, but on this day, it is music to my ears. The bright green grass grows at such a rate that after just a few sunny days it needs to be trimmed. After the machine has done its job, the grass will be left in uniform rows of blades that are all of the same length. This sea of grass will allow for picnics, outdoor games, study sessions, sports practices, and endless other student adventures.

Bright yellow dandelions litter through the grass and many will soon lose to the lawn mower, but they will regrow before my eyes. They will pop up and continue to spread throughout the sea of green. I long for a day when the yellow dandelion has shifted into a wish-making moment, what I will wish for I cannot say.

Maybe I will wish for more days such as these, soaking in the sunshine and tasting the fresh air. Or maybe I will wish for days to pause, there are not enough daylight hours for me to be fully content. Maybe I will wish for the squirrels who flitter through the trees to collect so much food during the summer months that they are fed for winters to come. Maybe I will wish for something else entirely.

These dandelions began to occupy my mind as I sat in the grass. How could some classify something so delicate as a weed? The derogatory name places the wildflower inside of a monstrous box. Undesirable, unsightly, annoyance. Everything I think of when thinking of a weed, but not a dandelion. If the world stands to hate these beings, I stand against the world.

Does something become undesirable when the world decides it is? Or does it exist in that frame before the world even gets a say in the matter? Does the world decide that someone is evil, or were they evil before being exposed to the world.

Are we fools?

I stand on the wobbly dock, eyes trained on the water attempting to memorize every detail of its movement and being in order to write about it later. I note the rippling effect the wind creates on the smooth surface, and the once bright blue color fading to black as the sun sets behind me. As I am writing this all down I can not help but feel like this is too obvious, the water would be an obvious focal point for anyone in this spot, on this dock. I start to yearn to find a lesser known beauty, something looked over yet still breathtaking. For the first time since I arrived I tear my gaze away from the water and start taking in the things I had walked right past in my laser focused state of getting to the water.

I notice the rocks lying in wait underneath the shoreline, how the water turns transparent it seems just to put these rocks on display. Each one a slightly different color and shape, yet if you squint they all become one with each other dormant under the waves like an unlikely foundation. I notice the grass, the smell and appearance of it being freshly mowed, yet sections left to grow, allowed to blow in the breeze looking softer than wool. This grass is supporting the other onlookers I see before me, holding their blankets and baskets and bodies, yet all they can seem to focus on is the same water which dominated my gaze just shortly before.

But the thing that captured me like no other, was the tree domineering at the edge of the shore just off the dock, peering over the area as if it owned everything, the water, the rocks, the grass, even the people inhabiting it. It stood alone while the other trees grouped together, from this angle it looks taller than the rest although that may just be perspective’s little mind tricks. The sun sets directly behind it, its light seeping through the cracks between branches like water running through your palms, fast and flowing while simultaneously stagnant and slow. The branches are strong and opaque at the heart of the tree but as your eyes travel outwards the branches become smaller and fewer, translucence takes control and gives permission to the light to make its journey through.

This tree holds some sort of importance that I can not put my finger on, it holds itself like it knows something we do not. I wonder why the water is held much more divinely than the tree, why the water attracts visitors and not the tree. Is this what the tree wants? Is it intentional? Are we fools to think the water is the leader? Are we fools to think the tree is? Or are we fools to even think there is a leader to begin with? Maybe there is no larger meaning, maybe it is just some rocks, grass, water, and a tree.

Are we fools?

Nature Is About Perspective

As I observe the scenery around me, I am shocked at how different it feels compared to the summertime. While my eyes see the same, my body senses many diverse qualities. The waves crash harder against the rock just as the wind hits my face with a crisp sensation, and the houses across the lake, normally full of people and boats, are deserted. In the summer, I would stay here for hours, reading, writing, or taking photos, and I appreciated the breeze when the sun was beating down. Today, I wouldn’t say I like the breeze, as I get colder with each one that blows past me.

Despite the coldness, I decided to stay and sit on the bench closest to the water. As I sat down, I finally realized just how cold it was, as my legs seemed to tense up when they touched the bench. Yet, as I slowly got used to the cooling feeling on my legs, I began to observe more closely how wonderful this place was. I decided it was time to discover more than just looks; I wanted to hear the world around me. So, I closed my eyes and was truly impacted by how many sounds I missed by focusing on looks. I could perceive every wave crashing against each rock before finally hitting the wall and hearing each bird diving into the water, hoping to find food.

My usual quest for going to this spot was to get some pictures that I could post. Before this activity, I would always be on my phone or trying to find the best picture spot. Yet, when I finally just put my phone away and didn’t worry about posting a picture, I could capture the true image of how magnificent this place is.

I decided, in my journey of feeling more connected to the earth, that I would sit on the grass as long as it was dry. Luckily, it was, and I felt closer than ever before. I sat down, put my hands on the grass next to me, and closed my eyes, surrounding myself with nature’s beauty and the sounds it creates.

Not only did this activity connect me to nature, but it made me realize how lucky I am to experience connecting with nature and having the time and ability to do so. Many people are not able to obtain this gift of nature, either due to wars, natural disasters, or any other life-changing reason. This connection with nature puts into perspective how grateful I am for the life and surroundings I can be around whenever I choose, without any restrictions.

I realized that when I am around nature, I take it for granted and do not appreciate the trees blooming, waves crashing, or animals around that make it what it truly is. As I continue to go through life following this activity, I will be sure to admire and appreciate as much of nature as possible, ensuring to notice the natural beauty around me.

Screen Shot 2024-04-24 at 4.34.40 PM

The Pink Tree

The tree stands about 20 yards away, in a little clearng next to the gazebo. I’ve spent the last 20 minutes sitting quietly on the grassy lawn of the park and I’ve only just noticed it, blocking out all senses but the chirping of the birds. So when I finally crack open my eyes, I have to blink a bit to adjust to the afternoon sun. It’s a perfect cloudless day, but a chilly wind penetrates my double-layers, and I shiver. I look down at the notes I’ve jotted down so far:

  • owl hooting (barn owl?)
  • birds
  • very green grass

The world is coming alive, as it always does after the harsh winter. I look around at the park, fixing my eyes on the tree once more. The tree’s vibrant pink flowers stand out against all the greens and blues. I stand up, stretch my legs, and begin to stroll towards the gazebo. When I reach the tree, I position myself directly beneath it and point my camera up. The branches unfurl out, allowing peaks of blue between the pink, until they disappear beyond the edges of the square frame. I take the shot, tuck my phone in a pocket, and sit down on the ground one more.

I’m happy to see about a half-dozen bees, buzzing around the flowers, pollinating. I’ve always liked bees. As a child, when all my friends would scatter in the presence of one, I would go completely still, letting the bee rest on my skin, trying to keep my breathing shallow, and my body relaxed. Every time, a few moments would pass, and the bee would float away again. I like to think they appreceiated my non-reactive approach, driven by fear though it was. I let the bees be and they let me be in return.

The tree itself is small, probably planted relatively recent. I feel slightly ashamed that I don’t know what it’s called, being the daughter of a forester with whom I went on countless walks in the woods growing up. As I gaze up, I observe the thinness of its branches, the smallness of its flowers. It seems rather fragile, bending easily in the slight breeze. Perhaps it’s the relative newness of spring that makes it seem so vulnerable, still fresh with the memory of a relentless cold. But the passing of the seasons guarantees many warm days ahead, those summer days when the winter is a distant memory. I imagine the tree growing sturdier as the days go by, until it stands strong and proud against the whipping wind of an August afternoon thunderstorm. It gives me hope, that I, too, can stand straight in the face of the seasons ahead.

I stay here a few minutes more, eyes and ears alert, waiting patiently for something else to observe. But it’s still early and the earth is waking up slowly, so I sit up, gather my things, and begin to walk away, making sure to brush the bark one last time.


An Evening in The Park

As I headed outside of my house in an attempt to be with nature, it took a long walk to truly be without the buildings, powerlines, houses, etc. I headed out to see something beautiful which is exactly what I found. After walking about a mile and a half, past the chaos of Main Street, I finally found a place of solace with trees, plants, and open grass. The small park on the end of Main Street, although still somewhat close to the hustle and bustle of town life, was a small getaway in its own right.

As I sat down underneath a giant tree, I made an active effort to put my phone down and observe the things around me. The first thing I noticed was the sounds I was hearing. The spring has brought beautiful sounds of birds to life and when looking up at the sky, I saw birds soaring from tree to tree and robins looking for worms in the grass. The grass itself was cold and fresh, as it had rained the day before. The sky was blue and nearly cloudless as if everything bad had been cried out by the clouds the day before. The breeze was light, causing the leaves to sway in the wind and create a light whooshing sound. It was, by almost anyone’s definition, a perfect spring day.

I decided that to take a different approach to view the nature around me, I would lie down underneath the big tree to see what I would find. When studying the tree closely, I began to notice just how unique it was. Instead of leaves, the tree was composed of thousands of tiny white flowers that made up the mass of a huge tree. There were hundreds of little clusters of flowers, about six in each cluster that made up what would normally be leaves. The flowers were tiny and delicate, something I found surprising. I felt amazed that something so little could withstand the ruthlessness of nature. Wind, rain, storms, and blazing sun all seem like they could destroy the tiny flowers. After looking down at the ground underneath the trees, my feelings had proven to be correct, as there were tiny petals dusted across the grass. Although they are flowers, I was surprised by their lack of scent. They were simply a visual sight to enjoy.

After observing the tree for quite some time, I began to notice something else peeking through the sky. The moon was coming out for the night and although it was slight, since it was still early, it looked beautiful next to the white flower tree. In the shape of a waxing crescent, it was a typical moon, but not unable to be appreciated.

One of the final things I noticed since it was also in my view was a pine tree that seemed to be something out of a cartoon. Instead of sticking out, the branches drooped downward, as if the weight of the needles was too much for the branch to bear. The overall downward slope of the tree gave an ominous feel, much different than the delicate tree that stood beside it. It felt as though the trees came from two different worlds, one a more forgiving place than the other, however beautiful in their own ways. By stopping and looking more closely at nature through a different lens, there is much to observe that may have gone unnoticed otherwise.

Tree Image

Growing and Learning with Code

My learning in this course so far as exposed me to the depths of english literature, books, novels, and how the digitalization of books has changed how I personally view literature. In the beginning of the semester, we read and discussed Broad Band by Claire L. Evans, which tells the untold stories of women who broke barriers and were early programming pioneers. Learning about their contributions to computing, programming, and the internet was knowledge I wasn’t fully aware of.

After our discussions about Broad Band, we started to experiment with GitBash and our Visual Studio Code. I was confused with where the course was going. It felt as though there was a shift in the course, and suddenly we were no longer talking about the women who created these programs, we were actually doing it ourselves. I struggled to understand what the connection was between the english discipline and something as complex as coding. This was a really big switch for me. Growing up I was someone who found a lot of comfort in my daily reading and writing. I never found coding or programming of any sort to be of any real interest. In my head at the time, there was no connection between the two, and I decided to keep it that way up until I attended college.

I was very disinterested in coding and programming because I didn’t really understand it. At one point, my parents enrolled me to take a coding class it felt like I was being pushed into a space I was not quite ready for, because I had no knowledge on how these skills related to what I wanted to do in the future. I found myself questioning the relationship between english and coding, how it would directly benefit my future as an english major and wondering why it mattered for someone like me to learn about this.

When we opened up our GitBash and started creating folders and files, I realized that this was not as complicated as I thought I was. I was being stubborn and unwilling to open my abilities to something new. By enrolling in this class, I realized that my skills are neither above nor below anyone else in the classroom. Realistically, we are all in the same boat!

This class helped me realize that there is a deeper meaning in what we are doing. The history goes back further than I could have imagined. I also realized that I am not alone in this process. 7 years ago, I was completely unaware on how serious the digital world was getting. I have so much more to learn about the connection between english and coding. Coding is a language within itself and requires a different level of writing to understand. There will be a lot of things I will struggle to understand, but these are just small bumps in the road.

Unexpected Surprises in this Class…


I guess I’ll start off by saying sorry for the delay in this post.

When I first saw this class being offered, I assumed from the title alone that this class would be about the ways in which human minds have begun to change due to the introduction of new forms of reading and different ways of taking in information. Probably due to my Education major, I expected to have conversations about the ways in which reading in different formats can change our comprehension, which of course connects back to education and the implementation of text in a classroom (especially ELA!). Upon realizing that my assumption was not entirely correct, and that we would be focusing on different aspects of not only regular but digital literacy and how we can use it to better understand and interpret texts, I was in equal parts fascinated, excited, and terrified.

I have never been very literate when it comes to technology, despite being part of the first generation to really grow up with it. I was in late middle school when I received an iPod Touch for Christmas, which was really my first exposure to this new era of technology. I suppose some of this is due to the fact that my parents seemed to be a bit slow on the uptake, as it appears after a quick engine search that the first iPod Touch was released when I was only seven years old. I definitely recall my parents having flip phones until the late 2000s, and I grew up playing games on a clunky old computer. All of this to say I always felt a couple years behind when it comes to digital literacy/understanding computers.

This is exactly why I found the subject material of this class to be so exciting and daunting at the same time. I couldn’t wait to develop some skills and knowledge of computers: how they work, why they work, why and how they were invented, etc.

When people ask me what classes I am taking this semester, I even find myself referring to this course as a “basic computers class” rather than an “English class,” while I of course, find both to be true.

I am especially excited to be familiarizing myself with terms such as “metareading” and “digital scholarly editing,” and seeing how these can be applied when looking at a text such as Walden. I am excited to be moving forward in this study, and I now understand why Walden is the perfect subject of study for this class, with several editions and constant edits being made by the original author.

This study, and I suppose then, this class as a whole, has changed the way I see text: it feels more fluid now, less concrete. I can understand that a “book” can be an amalgamation of ideas which span the stories of countless people. Text feels much more alive now, something which feels counterintuitive when considering the metacritical and hyperanalytical ways in which we are viewing it for the purposes of this class.

I am so looking forward to continuing these studies in the class and moving forward, and I cannot wait to see what else we can uncover together.

Thank you!

Griffin’s super cool (and definitely not late) Introspective thoughts

Believe it or not, I figured out how to get one of these things open! All by myself too, sort of. I’ve been trouble-shooting for the last 30 or 40 minutes, pretty sure I was just using the wrong command for what I was trying to do, but we’re here, I got the file open, that’s what matters.

So, here we are, writing a blog post, getting all introspective and stuff. How have I changed in the last month or two? Well, I guess I will start off by saying that I have always had a lot of hobbies. I love trying new things and developing new skills, and I especially love learning. However, this has started to become a double edged sword as I’ve gotten older. I really don’t have the time anymore to engage in any of my hobbies frequently enough to dive any deeper, learn any more, or get any better. I love playing guitar, for example, but I’m lucky if I’ve got it in me I’ll pick it up and practice for maybe 20-30 minutes once a week. That is hardly enough for me to even mantain the skills I acquired when I had more time. I wish I could just do my hobbies full time, but I’m sure everybody wishes that.

My point is, Computer science and programming has always been a passive interest of mine. I’ve never really given it the time necessary to develop any skills, but it’s something I find incredibly interesting. The first time I got the oppurtunity to dive a little deeper was when I was taking a few online classes during the COVID lockdowns at a community college. Unfortunately the lockdown rocked my mental health pretty good, and so I didn’t retain much of anything. I don’t think I even passed the class. I did take a game design class which involved doing some work in Unity, which was super fun, but I didn’t get too much further in that one either.

So, until taking this class, my interest in computer science was only able to manifest itself in the odd youtube video I’d watch about making DOOM run on an array of lemons, or creating a semi-functional version of Microsoft Paint in Minecraft. All I’d learned from my brush with actually engaging in computer science was that I’d definitely need to dedicate more time than I had been able if I stood any chance of understanding and retaining any of it.

After the first few weeks of this class I was already hooked. Getting the command line open for the first time, making directories and all that, boy it felt neat! Unfortunately after missing several weeks of this semester due to illness, I found myself pretty behind, and I’m still playing catch up. Hell, this blog post is already gonna be at least 3 days late, assuming I manage to finish it today. I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, but then again, I did manage to open this file. Pretty sure I even did it correctly, so I must be doing something right, right?

So, where am I going from here? Well for one, I’d love to catch up with the rest of the class. It feels like for every step I take forward, everyone else is taking two. I’m sure most of the class is struggling in their own way, this kind of material isn’t easy, but that two and a half weeks of class I missed certainly didn’t help me, that’s for sure.

Becoming Confident with My Computer

One of the most important understandings that this course has brought to me so far is the fact that I am not inherently “bad with technology.” Throughout my years in secondary school, I thought of my lack of understanding or profieciency with computers was something I should just accept as a weakness of mine. Obviously I strived for improvement, but I always, to some degree, thought of it as an area in which I would perpetually be one step behind my peers.

This outlook has changed since beginning this class. I now know that I am capable of learning how to use technology to my advantage, instead of viewing it as some entirely foreign concept at best, and my enemy at worst. This was not an immediate transition. I ran into diffuclties quite early on in the course when I could not download the apps necessary to do the classwork on (such as this very program). Overcoming that obstacle, and learning more about my device during the process, allowed me to feel like I had more control over my computer, and more autonomy in my usage of it.

I would not go so far as to say that I understand computers perfectly; it is akin to learning a new language, a process which involves much time and practice. I do, however, believe that I have made more progress than I originally believed myself to be capable of before taking this class, and I know that my development will only continue as the semester continues.

In terms of material, I found the portion we have read so far of Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet particularly interesting. The perspective offered about women’s role in the development of computers so early on is one that was entirely new to me. I did not expect women to be so central to the history of the machines as we know them today because, oftentimes, we think of coding, math, and engenieering as male dominated fields. It was very interesting to learn that this was not always the case; women filled the role of a “computer” before the machines that term refers to today was introduced, and also were the main players in navigating how to use the intricate machines in a way that is helpful to humankind.

The World of Online Text and Computer Literacy

With every english class I take as a college student, I make an effort to connect myself to the content and find a way in which the material might contribute to my abilities as both a writer and a future educator. This class has challenged me in a lot of ways I’ve never experienced in a classoom before, and has adapted me with a new mindset and set of skills that I was hesistant to embrace at first. I’ve always viewed myself as someone who thrives with writing and reading on paper. I grew up fully immersed in books, using words on a page to express my happiness, sadness, and confusion as a young girl. I found myself invested in the characters and storylines I read about, and used literature as a way to find new perspectives, and ways to view the world around me. This made a class about books and computers completely foreign to me.

How could I take the concepts I was so familiar with on pen and paper and translate them virtually! My first few weeks learning about the terminal window and Visual Studio code was a tough transition, and faced me with an expected challenge. I had to work harder to understand the virtual aspect of literature and I truly believe the effort I put into understanding the code made a real difference in my connection to the course.

Learning skills like transcription and TEI taught me the importance and care that goes into decoding older works and the significance that technology can hold when gaining acess to an authors message/purpose. This question of technologys purpose in a world of literature resonated with me most deeply when taking this course. What qualities make something a book? How does online literature and creations like AI alter the world of literature?

Class discussions surrounding these questions led me to determine that the every changing nature of our world and the prevalence of technology within it give computers and the metaverse a well deserved spot within the realm of reading and writing. This is something I thought I’d never say!I feel that these reflective questions that guided class also allowed me to expand my ability to respectfully disagree with others, and have a productive conversation!

While I still connect and feel the ability to interact best with physical copies of text, I feel that this class has allowed me to establish a new relationship to my computer. This newfounded computer literacy has made it easier for me to read and annotate text online, and showed me how important it is to examine the history that exists online in the world of literature.

Following this idea of progressing communication skills, the comments we left on Walden showed me a new form of online annotation and classmate colloboration that I enjoyed! The world of online forums and their international ability to discuss varying works is such a priviledge! I feel lucky to have learned more about that through ENGL 340.

Overall this class has taught me a lot about communication, and the relationship between technology and literature that I am excited to dive deeper into.