Wednesday, August 18, 2010


At the beginning of this summer semester, I had low expectations of getting a grade above a “C” in English 101. I was extremely nervous and very frustrated on the first day of class. After reading the syllabus and covering the course goals, I quickly realized my fear was all in my head. I began to think of myself as writer struggling to find his niche, the writer in search of a muse to get ideas flowing and mold the written word into something comprehensible. I used military style outlines and backward planning strategies to formulate ideas and ignite my approach to my reach goals. I constantly sought out transition words to attempt a smooth flowing thought that my readers could comprehend and stay actively engaged. Once formulating a controlling purpose, I branched out in outline form identifying main points that lead back to the controlling purpose. My first attempt at finding a controlling purpose failed due to a lack of information and evidence to analyze. Once locating supporting evidence to analyze and interpret, writing a controlling purpose came much easier. The evidence I chose to analyze and interpret stood out as the strongest focal points of each essay, the points I felt would support may claim in my decision making process for my essays. I started out with simple content gradually revising into a more comprehensible form in order to raise my level of writing. My greatest weakness is writing the way I speak, which is not always correct verbiage. When interpreting text and clearly analyzing context I feel, is an
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area I need to improve. Now I will cover my interpretive essays written for this course and the course goals achieved in this course.

The purpose of this paper will be to emphasize my belief of protecting memories and paying more attention documenting experiences. When sharing personal experiences, they can be stored with others minimizing shame and guilt, making for a strong connection. Not communicating with others can be just as difficult as dealing with a tragedy. It can lead to forced separation of not only your body, but also your mind. I have been a member of the United States Army for many years, and during my enlistment, I have gained more useful skills than I could ever imagine. Over the years, I have lost or forgotten many of my worldly experiences. In my first ten years, I have seen over a dozen countries and lay claim to lots of memories that are near and dear to me. That is quite a bit of information and personal memories to gain in that amount of time. Who can remember it all? When reading Charles Baxter’s essay, “Shame and Forgetting in the Information Age”, it really opened my eyes to the way we remember and the way we deal with shame. Baxter’s purpose was:

Shame can lead to anxiety and the approach we take in dealing with our anxiety may ultimately lead to a loss of identity. How in the information age, may we combat the phobia of forgetting our personal histories, without the overwhelming shame and guilt? (990405198)

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During the first few years when I took mid-tour leave, I forced myself to share memories of my tours with family and friends, thus forced to remember. Sometimes I forgot or mixed up experiences with others. I could definitely say I felt shame from time to time. I quickly found ways to remedy my situation and preserve my personal memories, which became a part of my personal history. Gaining the military knowledge and combat skills that will stick with me for an eternity, pushed out some of the personal memories I acquired. Therefore, being in that situation required me to obtain digital media to document my experiences to help me not to forget the good times and the bad. This helped a great deal when telling a story about my adventures to my family and friends.

I can definitely relate to the desire to remember and the need for not feeling shameful at times that I did forget. At times, I felt I used strategic amnesia, which served to be a great advantage at times and a disadvantage at others. I can remember my first tour to Iraq, at the start of the invasion; my unit and I conducted daily patrols (convoy operations). At the start of a new day, we encountered an IED (improvised explosive device). I took out my vehicle injuring my driver, my TC (troop commander or passenger look out), the gunner, and myself. It happened so fast leaving me dazed and
confused for less than a minute. When I came to, my combat training kicked in and I remember everything I needed to know in an instant. Now when I told the story to my
family and friends, I spared them the gory details. I chose what not to remember, thus utilizing strategic amnesia.
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I do not think I had any anxiety about forgetting some of my personal experiences, even though I believe Charles Baxter is correct in saying that many of us consider strategic amnesia before anything else. We tend to collect information at the same instance, leaving personal experiences and memories behind. That leads to feeling shameful when forgetting, causing anxiety. It is difficult to remember everything you encounter over the years while traveling country to country. Being part of the military has programmed me to forget and sometimes not to forget about a many different things. Therefore, I cannot feel shame or regret about not remembering. However, I still share!

I feel that in the future I will pay more attention on documenting my experiences accurately in order to share my personal experiences with others, not losing my identity. Shun away the shame and guilt and live life to the fullest. Choosing to use my military experience help shape the strategies and content used in my Baxter essay.

I consider myself a socialite, someone who loves to be around others, and make connections. Especially family connections, which can define you as you become mature. I have always had strong family roots. Staying close to, communicating with,
and making strong connections have always been a life goal. When reading, “Separate Kingdoms”, by Valerie Laken, I was very confused by her style of writing. After going
over locating the purpose during class last week, it became clear on how to read the text. I found it very interesting the way Laken used different points of view in a split column,

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with bridges connecting conversations. It reminded me of a script for a play. I read Laken’s story several times, and viewed her purpose to be:

Despite tragedies which may befall us in life; being able to reach beyond the borders of your kingdom, in hopes of making a connection, may be the ultimate choice that could pull a family closer and create a stronger relationship (990405198)

When writing my essay, I took pieces of my life and situations I have been in to find a strong focus. Once I found that focus, I molded them into strategies, thus aiding in finding the purpose. I located the strongest meaningful quotes I felt would have an impact on my audience. Hoping to get them thinking about their own personal experience possibly connected to the story. I have learned communication is a key to happiness. Keeping suppressed feelings inside may lead to stress and anxiety. I grew up in a bi-racial household, dealing with all types of emotions; even tragedies. I was living in Colorado sometime ago and injured my self very badly. The injury was so severe I needed in home care. Living in an apartment with no elevator would not do me any good. Therefore, I accepted an offer from my friend to stay at her place during the healing process. Things quickly changed. I began to feel irritable and anxious, wanted
no one to bother me. I wanted to be alone, in my own separate kingdom. I did not want to let anyone in because of the misery I felt. I soon longed for some human interaction.
Watching television from sun up, to sun down just did not cut it. I immediately realized that I needed to make a connection with someone. I knew I needed help with coping. Not
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being mobile, not being that active person was extremely difficult to deal with. The restriction, the stress, it was brutal.

Laken’s story reminded me to always reach out to others offering comfort in times of distress. This story really moved me in many different ways, a sense of regret from the father, feelings of sadness from the mother, and a bit of loneliness from the son. No matter how difficult the situation connections must be strong and solid. I continue to reach to others creating new connections letting people in to my kingdom hoping they would in turn do the same.

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