Because I Give a Shipka

Part 1:

This is a GPS watch and heart rate monitor.

Running Multimodal
Running Multimodal

 

 

You can hear me tell you how it works.

 

 

 

The thing is somewhat intuitive which means I don’t know how to use everything on it – my birthday present from 2012. My parents spent a bit more on my birthday than usual ($100) because they have always been very supportive, sometimes overly supportive of my running. Sometimes I think using a GPS watch (and sometimes heart-rate monitor too) is a bit like getting the old approval from the parents, or peers, or coaches, (the latter two my previous collaborators) that I might not get from just going for a run. Other times I purposefully go running without my watch – I need to be liberated from data and instant feedback.

In addition to it composing my running, the data can be used to reflect the running culture that I sometimes live in. "Always Improving"

Like any popular sport, stats has taken over. Even in my collaborate, community of runners, The Palouse Falls Beer Chasers, we have a data driven, lightly competitive record.

PFBC

 

 

 

 

 

 

And if my watch had the feature that some of the more expensive ones did, I could hook it to my computer and get data in alphabetic text, that might look something like my Beer Chasers stats:

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 5.48.31 PM

 

 

 

 

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Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 5.49.21 PMPart 2:

Shipka would say that how I run as I reflect is a key part of my process toward my end-goal or final product. The process behind making part one in this posting, involves thinking critically or differently about my running culture: I got my watch in place of a human coach and teammates; my present teammates and I collect data, compose our Wednesday workouts and drinking habits in multiple modes – remediated – after said run. And our workouts combined create collaborate data. I suppose it is no accident that the way scientists communicate, data, has shown up in our group of runners that includes a decent amount of scientists, students and professionals. And that we would have a narrative, alphabetic text remediation also makes sense as the founders of the groups were both professionals with an English degree (or two) and creative writers.

Here is the modes and processes and mediation: 1) meet at Birch and Barley on Wednesdays, (or don’t) then run, bike, walk, or do some kind of workout for at least 25 minutes. After working out, return (or arrive) to Birch and Barley. Order a beer. While drinking a clipboard goes around where we write down our data that one of our fearless leaders later puts into the website he built to house and display our data. It used to be a google doc/spreadsheet but as we’ve got a computer scientist in the mix, we remediated to a more impressive medium and end product (where you get the screenshots from of my runner data, for example).

Sometimes we also talk about the run we did, or a race we’re training for. Sometimes we talk about relationships. Sometimes work. Sometimes we cover all of the above and sometimes we do it while running before we even get to the drinking. So we’ve remediated, improved upon an arguably bad habit: drinking. We’ve gained an outlook of how others communicate and prioritize information. And this end product or result would most certainly not exist without different modes in the process.

Part 3:

Here are the parts toward a whole:

Toward a Composition Made Whole by Jody Shipka

Intro: Here Shipka states the overarching theme and caution in multimodal being equated solely with “new” technologies as well as the ongoing stigma attached to multimodal assignments, particularly with concern to the finish product.

Chapter 1: The title almost says it all with “The Problem with Freshman Comp.” We are constantly attempting an impossible task with English 101. We cannot teach the breadth and complexity of writing in one semester, for all fields of writing: impossible. Similarly, we cannot focus solely on the end-product quality or even usability if we are going to teach multimodal. Process and checking in and grading that process along the way.

Chapter 2: Shipka discusses the philosophy and theories that support multimodal learning. A “sociocultural approach” with analytic mediated action and reflection can revolutionize our classrooms and the way our students think about communicating and writing. Shipka reiterates the “always multimodal” concept of writing by keeping the idea that technology is not the only mode of writing as a major part and pushback in this chapter.

Chapter 3: Here Shipka gets multimodal, including images of multimodal writing process assignments. Ultimately, Shipka recognizes that both the planning writing or creations and the final product are equally important. Awareness of how we communicate and others communicate will obviously make us better communicators, including writing.

Chapter 4: In this chapter Shipka returns to more theory based information as she unpacks how she has scaffolded multimodality into her classroom over the years. What really struck me is the ability and power of being able to sit with, include, the unknown. It’s okay if we don’t know what our students’ ideas might look like or be assessed.

Chapter 5: Shipka gives practical ways to incorporate multimodality in the classroom. I especially like her idea of “flexible rhetoricians” (113) and grading accomplished in part by the students writing out and justifying why they made the choices they did. In this way, you could potentially not grade the final product at all but still give students grades for it via grading the process and choices – emphasis on the why, the rhetoric, intended, and achieved effect of the choices. Maybe a project turns out just awful but the student is able to write and identify why in such a way that they ultimately improve their critical thinking and communicating skills; even better to have a way to learn by hard knocks, but without having to have a failed grade to accomplish it.

Conclusion: Shipka sees the best writing as only accomplished after consciousness has been raised. And as teachers, we can only best cultivate this somewhat moral philosophy as well as multimodality projects if we practice what we preach. As a creative writing major in undergrad, I didn’t really know how to write a research paper. Now I know how, I don’t do it particularly well but well enough, and in the failures and consciousness and I better teach how-to write a research paper. If a teacher doesn’t know how to incorporate or grade a multimodal project, make something multimodal!

Part 4:

My questions for Professor Shipka:

Can you talk more about modes or mediums as an addition versus a replacement? How do you make this case to external parties in academia and English department? In a English 101 class, does this end up replacing an assignment to go alongside traditional text-writing? Or, do you feel adding multimodal works (best?) as a remediation of a text they already created or will create?

After sending out my questions, I actually read the book; so now I feel that my second question is pretty well addressed by chapter 2 and 5. So I would focus on my last two questions.

Wandering Frisbee

There is a little eclectic shop in downtown Pullman where they sell clothes, oriental themed trinkets and beads.  A couple of years ago I talked to the owner he said that fair trade is a bunch crap and that the people over don’t want it because it’s hurting business.  He speaks on the authority of having an Asian wife, as well as spending some time, ‘over there’.

I think.  Like I said it was a couple of years ago.  I remember at the time thinking he actually had some legit points, even if he conveniently left out some points like pay wages in factories and such.  Anyway, I don’t really have enough information to be trash talking him, and that is not my intention at all.  In my hunt for a second job this summer I wandered in there again. I was delighted to see they had used frisbee golf discs for sale.

Frisbees are awesome.  You can totally suck at frisbee but still feel like you are accomplishing something because it still gets some distance.  Ultimate Frisbee holds a love-hate relationship for me, fun yet impact-dangerous, a good workout yet my least favorite kind; it’s basically sprint drills.    So when I recently discovered Frisbee Golf over spring break, or ‘frolf’ as George Castanza calls it on Seinfield, I found the bliss of Frisbee.

It’s low key, it’s social, and still challenging as I proved by taking sometimes almost ten throws to get the frisbee in the chain basket that is maybe 200-400 meters away.  I’m going to invest in some frisbee-golf-specific discs because they have putter disc for when I am on my seventh or eighth throw and only ten feet away from the basket.

As is often the case, this is one of those times that links me back to, or with Liverpool.  It also reminds me of one of the good American friends I made while I was there last summer.  Her name of anonymity when I refer to her in my Liverpool writings is, in fact, Frisbee.

Frisbee was my hotel roommate in the Newark, New Jersey airport Hilton.  I didn’t get in until 1 am, I think I told that melodramtic detail before, and felt a little creepy coming into a complete stranger’s room.  But Frisbee, like me, is a sound sleeper and didn’t even hear me.  She got up before me, and told me later she knew I was awesome because of the items left in view digging out my bathroom accesories bag; a very dinged-up Sigg bottle and a blue sparkly Frisbee.

I hung out with Frisbee the most out of everybody in the group.  After wandering a few different times on my own, Frisbee and I talked about the beauty of wandering and not having a set plan, but also of our common love of thrift stores.  I believe it was after our Slavery History tour of downtown Liverpool that we set off to wandering.

We got food and went to several different small local shops.  Today I own a used book and two different awesome tops from our excursions.  I got one of my friends back in Pullman some really cool yoga/hippie looking pants and jewelry for a handful of my girlfriends/girl relatives.

While you do not grow as a person unless you try new things, there is something to be said for finding those people you can relate to.  In Liverpool I rediscovered or reremembered how to experience everyday life as exciting.  Most of the time when I ride the bus I think of Liverpool, for example.  Frisbee and I had a good time learning Liverpool via what we knew, as well as with what we didn’t know.  And I treasure the souls I meet that I can truly connect with, they have always seemed hard for me to find.

But that is another thing I learned with wandering Frisbee and the entire group, as well as from Scousers; people are not as different as you think and the differences are often times the best part!  When I gave a presentation for SSS staff at WSU on the University of Liverpool Leadership Training Program, what we did, now their students apply, etc., I told them that even before we got to Liverpool it was like we’d already traveled.  Many of us had lived and seen different places, we were from all over the US as well as from Mexico.

Hopefully I’ll get to see Frisbee while I’m in the same state visiting for InLove’s wedding this summer.  Because we only actually got around to using my frisbee once.  It was low-key tossing back and forth on Crosby Beach, our last day in the UK.

Slave Trade

One of the first out-of-the-classroom lectures the Trio group had in Liverpool this last June, was a tour of the inner city, downtown area.  We saw the town hall, trade buildings, a court house, churches, prominent houses, and several statues.  Most of these were built mid-to-late 1700s.  I’m doing my best to remember the dates here, but if I remember right, before approximately 1730s or so, Liverpool was more or less a little fishing town.  The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade changed everything.

The town hall had ornate door handles of Poseidon riding the ocean waves, wall carvings of Neptune/Poseidon standing by two little black boys holding bags of money were on either side of the doorway.  A stunning, intricately carved fireplace greets you in the first room.  The lavish qualities of this building were built with the wealth that came from the slave trade.

The influence of the trade can be seen everyone, whether a person recognizes it as such.  For example, many of the street names are after prominent men in the slave trade.  But the slave trade ended, and Liverpool began its adjustments and decline; the city is all about the Beatles after all.  Though it could be argued that the Beatles were a part of what helped saved Liverpool, what with tourism and all.  More significantly, in 2008, Liverpool hosted “The Capitol of Culture”.  Art was everywhere, it was everywhere before they were nominated for Capitol of Culture.  Besides the Beatles museums and sites, there are an incredible amount of museums, theater everywhere.

After three weeks there, I decided that Liverpool was the best of two worlds-small town friendliness and big city diversity and access.  Access to all of the arts, different kinds of foods to eat, awesome small local shops as well as the monster company shops, and fantastic public transportation.  The Beatles may have put Liverpool back on the map for US citizens, but I don’t doubt it would have risen without their help.

I sincerely hope I’m able to return to Liverpool because I am very much aware of all the holes there are in my knowledge of the place; of what makes breathe and the soul of it, as perhaps this post illustrates to those who do know Liverpool.  I wanted to note the price paid for the original blossoming of Liverpool-and I welcome any and all Scousers to correct and add to the information I have here. I should have written this when it was fresher on the brain.

Bus Stop, Bus Go

This piece was written for my English 353 class, creative non-fiction.  Some of the content is repetitious to a previous post on here, but hopefully ya’ll enjoy it.

A Travel Essay by Edie-Marie Roper

The Wheatland Express is an airport shuttle, named for all the golden hills of the Palouse. Or rather, a company that bought a few fancy buses and then overcharged because students without cars to get to Spokane or money to fly out from the tiny airport in Pullman, Washington.  For now, $45 one-way is still $60+ cheaper than flying in and out of the little commuter airport. The shuttle-bus rattles and rumbles its way down Stadium Way to take a left on Grand Avenue.  These are two of the three roads that make up Pullman, a little college town of about 27,000 people, (depending on who’s doing the rounding) and approximately 18,000 of that number are college students who leave every summer, just like I’m doing now.

After boarding the bus the driver goes through the obligatory niceties:

“Where are you flying off to?”

“Liverpool”

“Wow! What are you doing there?”

“A study abroad program.”

“In Liverpool?  What do you study at school?”

“Creative writing.”

“Well…neat.  Sounds fun. Can you believe how hot it is already at 10:00 am!”

“Pretty crazy.”

“Yup.  Sure is hot.”

He’s finished talking, much to my relief.  I hate insincere, meaningless conversations.  I turn to watch the castledom of red brick campus called Washington State University disappear around the bend in the road leading to Spokane, the next biggest thing for almost 2 hours, population 462, 677. I recall the first time I rounded the corner coming the other way; it was actually quite breathtaking, especially the clock tower.  The clock will allegedly shine white instead of red at night when a virgin graduates from WSU, it ticks the time away until I graduate, and regularly declares the cranky, “Why-do-you-not-inheritantly-know-how-this-public-transit-system-works” bus drivers, as tardy.  Unfortunately, I’m the one that walks awkwardly and late into class, not the bus driver. And it’s not as if they could give you a note like they do in grade school, the Pullman Transit would have to kill a lot of trees if they did that.

I turn around to face my current bus driver, watching the spring green rolling hills of lentils and wheat flick by through the windows like an old animated film.  It’s pretty, but I’ve seen it all before, I lean my head back, closing my eyes.  I think how nice it will be to be on adventure where mundane things like riding the sweaty, sticky bus, after fumbling for your student id, even though it’s obvious you are a college student, don’t happen. Seriously, I’m standing with a group of people wearing backpacks at 11 am, in ‘Go Cougs!’ sweatpants and hair done to look messy, and the driver thinks I’m trying to sneak a free ride to work?  Even if you are flipping burgers, the place requires a uniform, and most employers require something a little more formal than sweatpants.

But I’m leaving on a jet plane and all those everyday kinds of things, like riding a bus, will cease to exist for me, if only for a little bit.

**

It was an uneventful travel once I got to Spokane.  I flew to Seattle to New Jersey where I spent the night and met up with my fellow students and companions for the next three weeks.  We all flew the 6 hours over the Atlantic together, landing in Manchester, home of the 1960’s pop band, The Hollies. “Bus stop, bus go, we stay love grows, under my umbrella…”

**

The sun is low in the sky but not yet coloring the horizon with sunset.  Today was an uncharacteristically hot and sunny day in Liverpool, accourding to the locals.  It’s too bad because I enjoy the rain, but I also do not mind the light layer of sweat mixed with humidity on my skin as I shift from foot to foot on the curb of Bold Street.  I watched down the street, in the wrong direction, looking for the bus and made a startled jump as the brakes on the bus hissed and screeched next to me from the other direction.  It’s the Merseyside 80A route I’ve been told will take me back to my dormitory, or at least I think so—the sign up top the swirling teal coloured bus says ‘80 Speke’.  There are a few locals to board the bus before me, which is lucky because I’m fumbling with my change, reading closely the print on the metal. It’s directions more than a label really, though I never thought of that before with my native country’s currency.

“Uh, one student?” I say, but it sounds like a question.  He gives me a printed out stub piece, change from my two pounds, and a strange look at my timid, obvious American self.  I wonder what he thinks of Americans?  What stereotype has he subscribed to?  “This bus goes to Roseland, right?” I ask.

“Roseland?” he repeats.  It sounds strange to him how I say it and vice versa.  “Yeah, it goes to Roseland.”

“Thank you.”

“Sure, cheers.”

I sit down on 1990’s style multi-coloured upholstered seats, fiberglass and sturdy; with effort the bus goes.  I’m shown a new city that is somehow bright and dreary at the same time through bus windows, riding sideways, not unlike Seattle really, (THE city of my home state) though I’ve only been there a handful of weekends in my life. I watch the inner-city bustle of Liverpool evolve to posh tree-filled neighborhoods to suburbia to an open flat landscape.  Merseyside means a sort of county or state combined with a regional reference, (the River Mersey), equivalent to us referring to New England, I dare say.  Liverpool by itself has 435,500 people, but the Merseyside region populations 1, 365,900.  It’s about a half hour bus ride to get from downtown where the University of Liverpool campus lies to the residential halls in Roseland.  Incidentally, the word posh originated from this area in the 1700s, an acronym for Port Out, Starboard Home, the really nice and expensive cabins stayed in on a ship to or from India.

From the road I could now see clusters of suburbia in the distance and it felt oddly familiar.  It felt like patting your head while rubbing your stomach or turning a cartwheel leading with the opposite hand than you usually do; I was in a foreign country, I didn’t know the currency, speak or dress the same or even understand people most the time, it should be more different, shouldn’t it?

I figure out it reminds me of being outside of the Salt Lake City, or Spokane airports—the two that I’ve spent the most time at in my life thus far.  And then the terrible part, an airport does indeed come into view.  I’m either on the wrong bus or I’ve missed my stop. The brakes sigh and I read on the John Lennon Airport, “Above us only sky…”

“This is the last stop, love,” says the bus driver.

“Oh,” my face is red and I’ve got an anxiety knot in my stomach, “Didn’t we go to Roseland?”

“Roseland was about a half ago,” he says.

“Oh, I didn’t know.” My voice sound vulnerable and shaky; I walked around all day still sleep deprived from residual jet lag and already partying my nights away, I feel like I could cry, and mortified.

“I’m sorry love, I thought you knew where Roseland was cause you mentioned it,” he seems genuinely empathetic and sorry, as if it were his fault.  I shake my head,

“No, sorry, I meant to ask you to tell me when were there.  I’ve only been here just two days,” I say. He tells me this is the last run of this route for the day but that I can catch an “A-T-A” that’ll take me there and where to wait for the bus and some other helpful instructions that don’t really sink in—he’s difficult to understand—because despite its similar population to Spokane, people are as friendly as a small non-college town in the US where everyone has known you since you were yeah high, only less nosy.

I took the quick fix from the John Lennon Airport on account of being exhausted and confused.  I didn’t know then that Liverpool has close to 2,000 bus routes, so even though they come every half hour just like in Pullman, you always have at least two different routes to get you where you need to go, every 15 minutes or less; you aren’t really screwed if you miss the bus in Liverpool like you are in Pullman, but then again, you wouldn’t very believably be able to blame your tardiness on the busses in Liverpool either.

My cabby came with a killer Scouser accent.

“Waryagoon?” he says.

“ What?” I ask.

“ wAR ya goin?” he repeats.

“Ooohhh,” I respond.  I should’ve figured as much, I mean isn’t that usually what a cab driver first asks you?  I tell him where I’m going, twice, with elaboration until he says he probably knows where to take me and drives off.

“ sosya earloong?” he says.

“What?”

“owloong yastye ear?”

“Oh yeah?  Mmmhhhh.  Cool.” I respond, still no idea what he said.  He laughs and tries again.  Apparently I didn’t manage the right response for whatever he said, and Scousers, native born and bred citizens of Liverpool, sometimes Liverpoodlians, are known for their distinctive, impossible to understand accents throughout the British isles—as I would verify from a very cute, much easier to understand Irishmen later on in my trip.

“Next time yoo take a taxi jus tell em Carnatic,” he says when we finally arrive at the living hall.

“What?” I said

“Carnatic, they’ll know that over Salisbury.”

“Oh.”  I paid. What the hell he was talking about? I find out later there is a huge sign at the vehicle entrance: Carnatic Halls.

**

The first day of real classes at the University of Liverpool and the fourth day in the country, our fearless Leader, Zoe, herded us like giddy grade-schoolers about to take a field trip, from the bus stop onto the bus itself.  Later, after classes we are released on our own, responsible for getting back on the right bus. Turns out there are close to 2 million riders a year, and anyone of those 2 million on the street that you ask has a high probability of being able and willing to assist in getting you home.  This time I got back to the bus stop, on the corner of Mulberry and Myrtle, and correctly boarded the “A-T-A” or as we’d pronounce in ‘American,’ A-D-A, 80a.

**

I am standing in the rain just outside the Bold Street bus stop shelter.  I can see a few people trying not to stare at this and I am trying not to stare back.  I’ve never seen someone wear neon heels when it wasn’t for Halloween.  I realize I’m staring and look away. Hand in my pocket, I roll the readied bus fare around, pressing the straight edges of the fifty pence underneath my fingernail.  A fifty pence piece is lighter and larger in circumference than a quarter, and unlike any currency back home, is shaped like miniature stop sign.  I don’t realize that I’ve become so accustomed to the currency here, that in a little over a week when I get US dollars out of the ATM in Newark, New Jersey airport, it looks ridiculous, like fake play money.

I breathe deep as an influx of breeze rises from its stop and go flow, carrying cigarette smoke and essence of fish my way.  I’m trying to quite smoking.  I wonder if I have time for a cigarette.  I look left down the street of boxy little cars rolling lazily down the road, the nightlife hasn’t picked up yet.  I looked the wrong way again.  Oops. No wonder people stare. So awkward, I think, not yet knowing that when I get back to the states, it’ll take me a day to remember to look the correct direction again.

I wonder if the gray sky and gray streets make it seem more yellow than it is.  The crosswalk screeches it’s safe to walk, be-be-be-be-be-be-be! God they’re so annoying.  I’ll never get used to them.

The rain picks up, switching from the misty drizzle to an outright pour and I smile because I love the rain, which anyone from Liverpool, or west side Washington for that matter, would think a little nutty.

I see a girl staring at me that just cross the street, her cigarette smoke dancing seductively in front of me, swirling my way, sneaking out from underneath her polka-dot umbrella on the breeze.  I remind myself that I’m trying to quite smoking.  She is wearing a neon orange shirt with a short, short skirt and six inch heels.  When I stare back at her she looks away.

I smile as the bus pulls up.  It’s one of those double-deckers that I haven’t had a chance to ride yet.  I hand the driver a pound and fifty pence.

“One student,” I say and grin as I take my ticket and ten pence change.  “Thanks!”

“Cheers.”

I giggle at myself for being so excited to ride the bus.  And it isn’t that different of a feel or view from the top level.

**

It’s almost ninety degrees already in Pullman, and it’s only ten am.  It isn’t humid and it hasn’t rained at all in almost 3 weeks.  I trudge up the steep hill by the DRA real estate and rental offices; “Leasing all of Pullman!” says their billboard.  No shit, the monopolizing exploiting bastards.  As one of the some 18,000 students captive in the little town guarded by miles of agriculture, I was lucky one of my friends and classmates needed a roommate in a place that had a human beating heart to pay rent too.  Capitalism combined with all the kids with well off parents has racketed the rent prices.

It’s Thursday of the second week of school and I’m just now trying out the bus stop I noticed walking or riding my bike up to campus.  I’m not sure what time it comes to the stop but as I crest the hill, my calves burning a bit, there’s a line of people by the sign-designated bus stop, promising.  Lucky too, because Pullman has a grand total of 25 bus routes, maybe 12 of those running right now, and only one specific one will go down this street.

I don’t bother to watch for the bus; instead I turn up my iPod, “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself” by The White Stripes is playing. All the students in line are mutually ignoring each other.

When the bus rumbles up I flip open my purple Motorola to check the time: 10:27 am.  I note it, and will miss the bus next week because on the rare occasion that the J-route bus is running on time, it actually comes at 10:21 am to this stop.

I flash my student ID for the bus driver as I walk to the beat of my music to find no open seat, plastic white-beige scuffed chairs and scratched and padded with red upholstery.  Go Cougs.  I try to remind myself the ‘free’ bus ride is a good deal next to the month long summer fares of one pound forty pence—almost three US dollars.  I wonder what our student fees divide out to for each bus ride by the end of the school year.  I don’t know just how many people ride the buses in a year, but in 2000, the number was 1.2 million rides.

I am tired and hot and sweaty and miserable. The bus smells like a locker room’s hamper and ass.  The pole I’m hanging onto because there aren’t any seats left is sticky.  I don’t want to know why. It’s probably sweat from the dry heat that is tanning all the rolling hills of agriculture to gold, and the hands of fellow commuters balmy.

The bus stops with a jerk that stumbles me back a few steps and into some dude somewhere else within his iPod. The dude says nothing to my mumbled sorry.  Neither of us looks directly at the other, because that would be rude, or weird, or something.  Definitely against social protocol.  My eyes dart from the insignificant design on his white t-shirt to khaki shorts, white socks and brown and white skater sketchers, his shoes are definitely the most interesting thing about him.  I think about green neon high heels.  He gets off at the next stop along with a few others freeing some seats.  The bus goes, I sit thinking first thing I need to do before work is wash my hands.  The swine flu epidemic is allegedly alive and well here in Pullman, after all.  Made national news and everything. I wonder if they heard about Pullman on the BBC news, and I hope so.

The Pullman Transit clatters on; I hear some international students talking back and forth in their language foreign and then someone in perfect English asks where they’re from and I remember how the bus ride, the regular everyday drone necessity was an adventure every time in Liverpool.

“I’m from America,” My friend Mikey would say.

“I can tell from your accent,” says the local Scouser going work.

“I don’t have an accent,” Mikey says in a good-natured retort, “You have an accent.”

She laughs.  He seems to have brightened her day, maybe made the bus an experience anew just this one time for her.

The international students on the bus say they are from different parts of China.  Turns out the native taught English for a semester in China close to where one of the international students grew up.  They exchange numbers.  What are the chances?  One in 1.2 million?  I think about how the woman in Liverpool had a one in maybe 2 million chance of running into Mikey and our group that day.

I wonder if the US is as different as the International students were expecting.  I think how not like the outside perception of the US Pullman is, how the bus is more mundane than an adventure even in Liverpool, even though I didn’t see it that way.  When I lived in Salt Lake City, though it was functional, it still was interesting because public transportation seems to attract the crazies.  Pullman’s crazy is a dumb fraternity boy at best.  It’s been disheartening and difficult to be back in Pullman, at the dog days of summer with a fulltime course load and 20 hours a week of work; after Liverpool my real life seems so insignificant.

Yet, when I first moved to this quirky and simultaneously regular place, it heightened all my senses just like Liverpool.  I realize that wherever I go after the Clock tower of Bryan hall chimes a declaration of my graduation, glowing crimson for sure, that it will be me who makes my place in this world interesting, that remains a world traveler even if and while traveling no where in particular or unique.

Someone yanks on cord strung along the bus windows and the red and white ‘Stop requested’ sign pings and lights up, pulling me from one many revelries in a Liverpool reverie.  This is my stop too. One in 1.2 million chance tomorrow that I’ll have an adventure riding from home to work during that space between bus stop, bus go, bus gone.

And Then There Was Pen & Ink

May 30, 1993 I wrote my first journal entry in pen.  Ink color of choice?  Purple.  And for anyone who doesn’t know me, or doesn’t know my favorite color, it’s purple.  My winter ski coat is purple and my old school alpine skiis from the ’90s have purple in them.  My beautiful quilt made by my Grandma who I am named after is primarily purple, I have purple sheets, and purple flowers embroidered on a pair of pillowcases.  The pillow cases were also of gift from my Grandma, she taught me how to do some of the stitches (which I may, or may not be able to recall how to do at this time).  I have purple gloves and hats and at times have had purple hair.  My parents gave me purple luggage for my birthday last March in anticipation of my trip to Liverpool, and I have a fair amount of clothing in the purple category.  So it makes me happy to know my first pen and ink journal entry was in purple, and that at age of 8, it looks like I already had my fetish for pens going.

Today when I woke up I for found myself in the

same clothes from yesterday and I was on the floor of

the living room.  I mopped around for a while.  Then

I took a shower and got ready for church but while

I was down in my room I packed to go camping.  I

haddent got my shoes and socks on yet and

my mom was calling me. So I grabed my shoes and

socks and ran up stairs.  My mom was cleaning up

the kichen a little bit so I slipped on my shoes (scribble out mark here)

and socks.  Then I went to get my hair done.  My mom

pulled the hair up from the sides and braided it down

and let the rest of the hair go down.  We went to church

as long as it lasted.  Then when we got home we

changed are clothes and headed of.  We travled with

are corsans for at least five hours before we got to a

camp sight.  It was a fun night.

Paul and The Pub

Liverpool is just across the way, after all
Liverpool is just across the way, after all

So we wander after formal class with a little direction to begin with, still herded as a group. We saw our first British police officers, who looked way too young to be cops, and Chip was immediately drawn to them.  He bombarded them with questions in his classic style that we would all become very familiar with throughout and by the end of the trip, primarily charming in an awkward sort of way.  And of course we had to take pictures of and with the Bobbies before going on our way.  I took one of Chip trying to look like he was being cuffed and taken in, but they weren’t playing it up much for us and Chip looks like the happiest guy ever arrested in the photo!

Shortly after that we were set loose, the herd dispersed and I finally get off on my own.  Ped seemed surprised and alarmed at this, but I have no time for compromise at this era in my life; a past, my person, were shattered by too much compromise.  And living alone for the six months preceding the trip made it hard to give up to what I wanted, when and how I wanted it, perhaps especially given the amazing opportunity to live and travel like I found myself in.  “Anyone who wants to come with me is more than welcome,” I explained, “But this is what I’m going to do today.”  Which was, a quest for bookstores and the guitar shop we past on our walking tour the first day in Liverpool, the latter I didn’t find.  In the process I went down to the waterfront and took pictures for my mom that would hopefully turn out well for her enjoyment, as well as be something my mom wanted to paint.  And then, I got lost.

The first time I got lost consisted of riding the bus too long on that first Sunday before the African Goya, which was a pretty fixable mistake.  I took the quick way on account of being exhausted and took a taxi with an awesome cabbi with a killer Scouser accent

He’d say: waryagoon?

I’d say: What?

He’d say: wAR ya goin?

I’d say: Ooohhh,

He’d say: sosya earloong?

I’d say: What?

He’d say: owloong yastye ear?

I’d say: oh yeah?  Mmmhhhh.  Cool  (still no idea what he said)

The fun part with Scousers is that sometimes when you do, in fact, correctly understand and know what words they used, you still don’t know what they said.  They take the magic of idiom in the English language to a whole new level.  He was a beacon of patience and continued to chat the whole time despite my obvious deficiency in communicated at that juncture.  We arrived at the living hall,

“Next time yoo take a taxi jus tell em Carnatic,” he said.

“What?” I said

“Carnatic, they’ll know that over Salisbury.”

“Oh.”  I paid.  I figured out the next day on the way to the bus what the hell he was talking about.  There is a huge sign at the vehicle entrance: Carnatic Halls.  It then lists the specific buildings, ours being Salisbury Hall.  It was then I realized that I did not speak the language, but seemed too, an illusion that generally made me look like an idiot.  Despite the frequent embarrassment, it made for a lot of fun.

This time I found myself and got back to the bus station, on the corner of Mulberry and Myrtle, where walking down the street was two of my instructors.  They asked me if nobody liked me. I said no, I just wasn’t afraid of being alone. And then they asked me for a drink in the Caledonia, a little local hole in the wall pub, (old guy bar they said) which I would later come to intimately love.  We talked about education differences, a little about Toxteth that I would be seeing tomorrow with one of them, that I was meeting for the first time that very moment, as guide and teacher.  I noted they vacillated back and forth between Scous and something else, English I assume because I could mostly understand it.  Given my love of all parts of language I couldn’t help but bring it up, but they were all over it.  They most definitely did talk differently to outsiders and/or friends that didn’t grow up in Liverpool.  How conscious a process was that I wondered?  So then we talked about the phenomenon we humans have of auto-edit, e.g. I’ll (for the most part) edit out my swearing around my parents and kids. As one these fine gentlemen paid for me second Guinness, I worried.

Me: You really don’t have to pay for it.

Him: Psht!  Don’t be ridiculous

Me: Well, it’s not that I’m thinking this is what your after, but back where I’m friend a guy buying you a drink generally means… ulterior motive.

Him: huh, well it doesn’t here.

It seems maybe the elder takes care of the younger, but I couldn’t be sure and never researched it, formal or informally.

Tipsy off me Guinness’s, I expressed concern for riding the bus drunk.  After which one of the instructors said, nonsense!  You’ve got to do that once in a while, one of those life experiences.   Giggling I thought, Could I have cooler, more down to earth professors?  Probably not.

The eldest of the two, who had bought the other’s drinks as well, headed off.  I was still nursing my Guinness—not like me really, but half way through it I was feeling the buzz and it occurred to me that responsible, adult-like behavior might be in order.  I envied their lack of such occurrences.

The night was cool and magically engulfing as I was escorted back across the street to the bus station.  I was seeing the world shiny.  I engaged my salutations as I saw the bus rattle up the street on the wrong side of the road—crazy Brits.  Much to my astonishment my handshake turned into a kiss on the cheek.

Me: Oh! Uh-

Him: It’s the European way!

Me: Right

Awkwardly I repeated the process for the other cheek.

See you tomorrows, then only after I paid my pound and forty pence bus ride did I remember reading literature on how the UK didn’t participate in that ritual.  What did it mean, if anything?  I would later on in my stay figure it out.

Dancing Queens

Queen and I were roaming together come day two in Liverpool. I did not know yet that she was a dancing queen, but she is. The entire study abroad group had done a little more touring of the city that morning and bought calling cards and similar day to day maintenance things needed while living here. I had to be reprimanded because though I told someone I was going to the toilet, they neglected to tell the others and momentarily thought they’d lost me. Due to my wandering spirit it would not be the last time, but it would be doing more adventurous and fun things then visiting the toilet. (If you ask for the restroom they look at you like you’re crazy.) Now the afternoon was ours.

The dormitory we are staying at is close to a colossal and Eden-like park called Sefton Park. It is the host of the fourth annual African Goya festival. The day was bright and simultaneously overcast, a skill that this British Isle has perfected. This particular afternoon it only taunted rain, having drizzled a bit in the morning, and didn’t actually come down on us. Queen and I drifted in and out of the circle of tents and booths. All kinds of food, Jamaican/Caribbean, Arabic, Somalian and more, were available. Breathtaking colours of linens composed the clothing being sold alongside a vast array of jewellery and crafts and different medians of art. I couldn’t resist and added to my collection of hats and bought a top of royal blue shaded to a wine red and intricately embroidered.

The art of West African dance was being tutored at one of the booths. With a very little coaxing I got Queen to agree to take the next class with me. In the meantime we gravitated to the stage where Daby Toure, a phenomenal guitarist and singer was performing with his band. After about twenty minutes we were sold, and wandered to the music booth where they were selling CD’s. We weren’t the only fans, because they were sold out. I wrote down their information to track them down later and we made to doubly enjoy the rest of their performance. We ran into Chip, and Chip being Chip, he took it upon himself as a personal quest to get their CD for us. When they finished performing he went backstage and got to speak with all of them, got an autograph and pictures but—they didn’t have any extra CD’s unfortunately.

Whilst he worked at that task, Queen and I headed over to the dance booth for our class. Now, not to be disparaging to my roots, but quite frankly, we do NOT emphasize or learn dance. Queen and I come from a similar background, albeit from different sides of the lower forty-eight. The dance is spectacular and its core is being able to do body isolations; rolling the shoulders, now shifting the feet, now both at the same time then circling the ribs, the walking/knee lifting, then both followed by some hip circles. Suffice to say, Queen and I were in WAY over our heads. Lots of giggling ensued. Our instructor made it look easy and was so connected to her own body. That combined with a fantastic smile made her mesmerizing. It was fantastic to witness, how couldn’t it be? She obviously is passionate and loves what she does. I don’t know how they do it really; I can’t concentrate on that many things at once. I got the hip circling down pat, but then I had to roll my shoulders and do a 360 all at the same time. I’d forget to roll my shoulders, or somehow only roll one and end up sort of jerking one hip to get turned around. Luckily I only ran into a couple of the others learning with us. I couldn’t say how Queen did because I couldn’t spare any attention for anything else, but in comparing notes afterwards, it sounds like we have the same awkward groove. We celebrated exerting ourselves for the entire hour and our mad skills in… something other than dance. The hair jutting out of my new hat clung and dripped on my neck and my body tingled in its layer of glisten. I was a bit sore the next day too. And the best horrifying part about it is somewhere in the middle I looked over to see Chip with his camera out recording. I haven’t been able to convince him to destroy the evidence yet.

The lesson having mercifully finished, the three of us got some water and Arabic food. Chip and I engaged in our first (of many, MANY, more to come) debate on gender roles. He ordered for me, which I thought was weird, which he thought was weird. “Why don’t you just pay for me while you’re at it?” I asked. “I was going to!” he replied. “Why?” I asked, “Wow, you are so old fashioned.” I didn’t yet realize how serious he was, as I don’t believe he realized how serious I was, but we had a good time teasing and bantering for and with the man that waited on us, he thought we were hilarious. I’m sure we were.

The day couldn’t have been complete without me getting us lost on the way home. Luckily, Chip isn’t ashamed to ask for directions. And now I know the area quite well for going on runs and such.