The Space Between the Parentheses

Take the Time to Enjoy the Middle

Buy the book. Anticipation. Start to read. Get hooked. Live, love, enjoy the ride. Start to feel sad. The end.

There is always a beginning, a middle, and an end. I put my money on the middle every time. Sure, there’s the excitement of a new beginning. Some find the end to be very fulfilling. I beg to differ. There is nothing wrong with the excitement of a new beginning, but it is always fleeting. Endings always roll over into new beginnings, whether one wants them to or not. It’s the middle that’s the most fun. The middle, the guts, the center, or the space between the beginning and the end–once I am hooked, the story that unfolds takes me with it. I am enveloped. There are very few feelings that can match the intensity, the passion, and the pure joy one can experience in the middle. There have been times in my life when I was so involved in the action between the parentheses that I did not clearly see the experience until I looked at it from the other side. I am butted up against the end parentheses again. As I write this essay, a few days have passed since I walked out of my last in-person class session. Except for a final exam next week, I have completed my requirements for my bachelor’s degree. Both happiness and sadness live in my heart. The happiness will win, I predict. The sadness started with a very odd feeling as I walked down the hallway away from my last writing class at Oakland University.

Ready for graduation

Ready for graduation

For this last semester, the choice of WRT232 Writing for New Media was one of my options to earn my Minor in Writing and Rhetoric. With this choice I had a goal in mind—to start a blog (or two) and further my personal writing endeavors. I started a blog titled, School/Write/Dogs.  

Thinking a clarification of the title of the blog was needed, I wrote this: If it’s not about school or writing, it’s about my companion dogs and rescue. So far I haven’t had much time for postings, but I am very pleased that I have started doing what I set out to do. I do not know how long it might have taken me to start a blog without the guidance I received in this class.

Going back to the beginning of the semester, I was nervous about new media. I still am. The baby steps I have been able to make following the course instructions, however, have pleased me. Being a Digital Immigrant, as readings by Marc Prensky and other authors have explained, makes me squeamish about most things digital. I experience a distinct distaste for the speed at which the digital world seems to revolve around me and I feel like an outsider (or Immigrant). It’s a little like the dream I have where I am running in slow motion, never able to catch up to whatever it is I am running after. That feeling is hard to shake especially with sites like Twitter scaring me half to death. I believe Twitter might be a subject for me to discuss with my nieces. When one has difficulty, call a Digital Native. That’s what I do when I am stuck. Even though I have posted some thoughts on Twitter, it is still a mystery site for me. Knowing that our instructor only had so much time to devote to one-on-one training, I felt that he spent a goodly amount with me in class periods. Lucky for me the Digital Natives in the class (the rest of the class) did not need as much help. I look at this course as a good starting point for me—perhaps not for all things digital—but for the new media I am hoping to use after this class ends.

As my immigrant status dictates, I have printed out almost every article or instructional guidelines we have had for this class. I intend to keep these papers and refer to them in the coming months as I continue or start writing projects. Some of the topics we covered in class were a little over-the-top, even offensive, but interesting. I am reminded of Guillermo Gomez-Pena in The Virtual Barrio @ The Other Frontier:

I venture into the terra ignota of cyberlandia without documents, a map or an invitation at hand. In doing so, I become a sort of virus, the cyber-version of the Mexican fly: irritating, inescapable, and hopefully highly contagious (2).

Mr. Gomez-Pena can be funny and (almost) endearing when he is not obnoxious. Hmmm . . . I wonder how natives view me. Scary thought.

Overall I believe Writing for New Media is an important class and can be taken in many interesting directions. Its title alone calls for innovation and exploration of the ever-changing world that is New Media. One possible thought for future classes could be a version strictly for Digital Natives and a version strictly for Digital Immigrants. Perhaps the pace of the students would then be evenly matched. Perhaps. The trick would be finding enough Immigrants to fill the required student minimum. Plenty of Natives, less and less Immigrants . . . and that is New Media in a nutshell.

I finish my Writing for New Media class with this essay. It was the middle that I enjoyed the most. Can’t go back to that middle, but I will remember it fondly as I look for the next opportunity to write, then skip happily toward my new middle, whatever that might turn out to be.

I’d like to leave you with something attributed to the late Henry Ford: “Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are right.”

My favorite tree at Oakland University (a contemplation site).

My favorite tree at Oakland University (a contemplation site).

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4 Responses to The Space Between the Parentheses

  1. jlvicker says:

    Very cool intro! Your reflection on a sort of us versus them complex and digital natives as opposed to digital immigrants was very interesting. Liked the pic 😀

  2. Jason says:

    Ann,

    I agree with Jade. What I’m writing in my comment now is only after reading your lede. Time to read the rest!

    … Ok, read the rest!

    It’s so good to see you in your cap and gown, Ann! I think the nostalgia in your reflection for something that seems so exasperating for most of us while we’re caught in the “middle” of it (like 4 or more years of college), speaks volumes. It reminds me of that Trace Adkins song, “Your Gonna Miss This” (For the record, I hate country music, but usually that song will come on the radio every other time when I have to endure sitting in the car with my fiancée’s mother lol…)

    My point is, most of us can’t wait to be done with college. But you described yourself as being sad walking away from your last class at OU. I bet many of us will feel the same way when our time comes. It’s probably a feeling that is impossible to predict until your finally living it. For the most part, we are just so intent on shuffling off to our careers and married lives that we don’t value the present. I think that is a very good point, and I think it is important to be in lock-step with the present, and to suck the marrow out of life (to borrow from Thoreau) without looking so longingly at the future. The future will come, soon enough.

    As for your future, Ann, you are nowhere near the end of your story! I do sincerely wish you keep this blog updated so we can see where your post-Oakland life takes you.

    All the best,

    Jason

    • Ann says:

      Thanks Jason. I was hoping my thoughts would spark a little something for the majority of the class living in the middle as I write. It’s an important time and should be relished.
      Ann

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