In the beginning of this semester, I wrote a blog post about an epigraph in our course syllabus. The epigraph was a screenshot of a tweet; a picture of pants simply entitled “Suspicious pants.” My original post about the pants was all about perception and how by digging deeper into something, one can always bring out more information. However, not everybody will notice the same things that other people notice. When I looked at the pants, I saw a face looking back at me, but other people might just see pants; just as Percival Everett says, “It’s incredible that a sentence is ever understood”. This is a quote that was on the whiteboard on the first day of classes. I will be using the epigraph of the pants in this essay as well, for it explains the way that my writing developed throughout the semester.
The class work really began when we read The Bacchae, an old Greek play by the playwright Euripides. I treated this book exactly how I would treat any book in the beginning of the semester. I read it one time through and went to class as if that was enough to prepare me for a discussion. During the discussion, I interjected with maybe one idea. Obviously, since I only read it through once, mostly due to procrastination and time limits, most of the class discussion was handled by other students in the class. After The Bacchae, we went on to read our first work from Percival Everett, Frenzy. During this reading, I am not proud to say it, or rather write it, but I handled it the same way I handled The Bacchae; I read it one time through and acted like that was enough for me to have an in depth discussion about the novel. Again, I was wrong, because I only interjected with one or two minor ideas while the rest of the class carried the discussion. If this book was the pants tweet, it would be as if I glanced at the picture for maybe a few seconds, and then decided I was ready for a discussion without even seeing a face. After this, I decided to get a little bit more serious about how I read things for class.
After Frenzy, we moved onto Percival Everett’s novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier. This time, I made sure that I knew what was going on in the book. As I read through the novel, I left notes in the pages. Whenever I found something that seems interesting, confusing, or important to the plot, I left a post it note right next to the line. This way, during the group discussions, I would have more to say. For example, when Not Sidney gets a girlfriend who has much lighter skin than him, and she wants him to meet his parents, I left a note that said, “He’s darker than her, will meeting the parents be uncomfortable?”. This way, if I need to write anything about any race themes in the book, I know where to look. I also set myself up a question, so I can know what to look for in the following chapter. In addition, I will have something to contribute towards the discussion. The more I say, the more I understand, and then the more I understand, the more I learn. Halfway through reading this, I remembered the pants; a regular pair of pants hung on a chair that if you keep looking at, becomes a face. The same goes for the novel. There are certain sections of the novel that I found very confusing, like the ending, or when he fesmerizes people. I would reread any confusing parts like those so I can make better sense of them. If I can see a face by looking at pants long enough, I can find information by rereading a confusing text. Maybe, I can even bring up a point in the discussion that nobody else found. Sadly, I didn’t find anything that anyone else didn’t find, but it still made me more prepared for the class discussion.
Because both my writing and my awareness of the text improved after leaving notes in the book, I decided to keep doing it. When we moved onto the next book, re: f (gesture), right off the bat I would start leaving notes. Because this book is a collection of poems, I had enough time to read and reread all of them before class. Because I reread it, I had a better understanding of what the poems are about, and I get to notice any connections that I didn’t notice the first time around. For example, the middle section of re: f (gesture) is entitled (Body). This section goes through a celebration of life in nineteen poems, so, of course, these poems relate to each other. However, it is not too apparent the first time reading them. Originally, it just seems like nineteen poems about nineteen different body parts. After reading it the second time though, I realized that it sounds like he’s telling a story through the poems; a sort of celebration of life. I explained this in one of my blog posts; Celebrating Life. In my first five blog posts, except the collaborative one, I got around an 82 or 83 for a grade. Now thanks to a pair of suspicious looking pants on a chair, I got an 86. After looking at the pants long enough and coming up with ideas, I had a better understanding of what that tweet was about, because it began to look more and more like a suspicious face. Similarly, the more I focused on (Body) by rereading and leaving notes, the more information I began to understand, the better my grade became in the end. In the blog posts continuing after this one, I kept my idea of really reading a text and understanding it before writing anything about it. So, after post six, all of my blog posts have improved in quality, as represented by the slightly higher grades I have been getting for them.
This is something that I need to hold onto in the future. Moving forwards, I definitely need to really focus on what I read in order to fully understand it. Tactics like rereading a text and leaving notes in the pages boosted my grade before, and with enough determination, it will continue to do so. I wish I can say that after seeing my grade improve with my sixth blog post, that I strived for more; that I felt rewarded and decided to shoot for an even higher grade, but sadly that is not entirely true. If it were, I would have defined whatever words we were assigned to define in The Bedford Glossary, I would have done the chapter readings from Literary Analysis, and I would have read the assigned pages for Reflective Writing. However, I am a student that will accept a mid-eighties grade, so I did not, and I know that it is a bad mentality to have, so starting next semester, I will definitely fix that. It just takes a while to shift your mentality; I have to keep practicing until it becomes natural to want those high nineties grades, and self-discipline is key. However, if I continue to not read any of those sources, it becomes clear that I did not learn a full lesson from the pants. So, while I am writing this, I still have not read any of those, but by the time I finish editing this paper, I will definitely read Reflective Writing, because I know that it will help me in writing this paper. I need to look long-term into my future too. I am studying English and adolescent education, so most likely, hopefully, I will become some sort of English teacher. In order for me to achieve my goals, I need to always remember the pants. Keep digging into what I need to do, and I will learn more. Keep digging into my classes, my exams, my papers, my practicums, and eventually, I will get to where I need to go. Then I can spread what I have learned to others. I will get students, and during the first week of class, they’re going to be staring up at a tweet of a pair of pants entitled, “Suspicious Pants.”