Saturday, December 5, 2009

Course Reflection of ENG 111-63

In the Fall of 2009, I enrolled in Tidewater Community College in Virginia Beach after being out of school for the past 24 years. One of my classes was ENG 111-63, taught by adjunct instructor, Paul Gasparo. It was very refreshing for me to return to school, because I certainly was not committed at 17. So, needless to say, I took my work seriously from day one.

On the first day of class, Paul gave some very simple college lessons, and three of them stuck with me the entire time. Those three lessons were (1) assess your instructor and make sure there is a "good fit" between the two of you, (2) follow your instructor's directions on assignments, and (3) don't be afraid to ask for help. During this semster, the Course Calendar changed quite a bit. All students were encouraged to check their TCC email and Blackboard on a regular basis to ensure that they were kept abreast of all assignments. If this was not being done, it was very easy to get lost in the class.

There are a few things that I did not like about the class; the first one being the many readings of Bruce Springstein lyrics. I don't particularly like or dislike Bruce Springstein; and I could not figure out how these lessons fit into the class. Not until we did our final diagnostic essay did I have a better understanding of what Paul was trying to teach us with these lyrics. He was trying to teach us that, initially, you can write something one way. Afterwards, you can rethink it and revise that document to where it is totally different than the first draft, and pull your audience into your story at the same time. This was not a bad lesson to learn, especially after we had learned so much about grammar, punctuation and citing. Another thing that I did not like was being required to print out so many reading assignments and carry them to class each week. By the time this class was over, my folder was so full of papers, it made me want to scream! But, I guess this is a minor thing to complain about. The last thing I did not like is exactly what I am doing right now, which is blogging. I have learned a little more about blogging since the first time, but initially, I could not catch on at all. I had to get a 1:1 lesson on how to do it. I can say for sure that blogging is something that I will not continue doing after this class is over.
What I did enjoy in this class was learning how to write again and feel comfortable doing it. I enjoyed free writing, which is when we were asked to write for approximately 15 minutes about anything we wanted to write about. It could be in full sentences or sentence fragments, but the ultimate goal was to just let your thoughts flow freely and write. We were required to get a little handbook, which we referred to as the Aaron handbook. This is, undoubetedly, the best book I have ever purchased, and I have decided to keep it forever to help me with all of my future classes. In addition to other things, this book gives a lot of instruction on grammar, punctuation, and citing that will certainly help me with my other classes in the future. Everything that I hoped to learn in this class is exactly what I did learn: how to write, how to critique the writing of my peers, and how to let my thoughts flow freely. With the many writing assignments that we were required to do, I learned how to open my mind to the fullest and write freely without fear.

For all of Paul's future students; if you are not committed to school at this point in your life, this will not be an easy class for you to take. If you have decided that school is what you want to do at this time, and you are totally committed, you will have no problem at all. Paul makes it very easy if you can just stay focused and follow along. Paul always makes himself available for students who need help with any of the assignments, whether it be after class or through the Online Writing Lab.
I have really enjoyed this class, and I feel that I have been prepared to meet ENG 112 head on!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Fruit of My Sloan's

Have you ever heard the phrase, "the fruit of my loins?" Well, I am going to tell you about "the fruit of my Sloan's." I am referring to the fruit of Sloan's Supermarket, where as a teenager, I held my first job. This fruit was the most succulent fruit I have ever tasted; I have not tasted anything like it since.

Sit back, relax, close your eyes and take a trip with me down memory lane. Well, on second thought, sit back and relax, but please do not close your eyes because you will not be able to read this, which will make it difficult for you to follow me down memory lane. Just imagine walking down the extra-wide aisle of the produce section of Sloan's supermarket on the hottest summer day in July. The cool air coming from the chilled cases filled with some of the most colorful fruits you could ever set your eyes upon. As you are walking down the aisle, the tune of Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen" softly whispers in your ears from the local soft music radio station. Right now, right this very second, you are feeling great! You are cooling off with free air, Steely Dan is sounding better than ever, a plethora of delectable summer fruits are within your reach, and everything is right with the world. All of a sudden, a red devil and a white angel pop up on either of your shoulders. A verbal tug of war ensues. Of course, you are having this discussion in your lowest tone of voice; surely, you would not have other shoppers think you are insane! The devil tells you do do it, and you reply, "No, I'm not going to do it." The angel tells you not do to it, and you reply, "Thank you for keeping me on the right track." Step off of memory lane for just one second, and answer the question that you are asking yourself right now, which is "What is the devil telling me to do?" In response to your question, the devil is telling you to walk over to that chilled case of colorful, delectable fruits, perhaps the Bing cherries, look around to make sure no one is watching, and pop one into your mouth! Now, slowly ease back onto memory lane and let us continue on our journey. Time is passing; you are walking down the aisle slower and slower, fighting temptation. After countless minutes of fighting, you succumb. You walk over to the plump, deep-red, delicious-looking Bing cherries. You pick one up, pull off the stem, look around to make sure the coast is clear, and quickly pop it into your mouth. Wow! What a rush! Nothing has ever tasted so good! You pop a second, then a third, each one tasting sweeter than the one before. As you savor the sweet taste on your tongue, let us now leave memory lane.

Now that I have painted this picture for you, I am sure that you can imagine how difficult it must have been for me to work in a store that always had such delicious fruits on display. From the deep-red cherries to the bright green Granny Smith apples, everything seemed so irresistible. As we, the employees, walked around each evening to restock the shelves with the unwanted groceries of the day ("throw-backs"); it was very difficult for us to look at the fruits and not want to taste them all. Our Manager, George, always had to watch us closely, as he knew we all loved the fruits. Truthfully, George felt the same way as he had been caught a time or two himself in the produce section indulging. No one was exempt; customers themselves were often spotted tasting a cherry or a grape as they shopped. Some wanted to taste the fruits before they purchased them; others just enjoyed popping them into their mouths as they walked around the store shopping. George never said anything to the customers if he saw them tasting the fruits; he believed he had the best in town, and he was proud of it! The employees and customers agreed.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Best Job Ever

I've held many jobs in my life; some of them good and others bad. There is, however, one job that stands out in my mind as being the best. This was my position as Cashier at Sloan's Supermarket [Sloan's] on Roosevelt Island in New York.

It all started when I was 16 years old. My sister, then 17, worked at Sloan's. Each Friday she would come home with her paycheck looking as if she'd won the lottery; and each Saturday she would go on her weekly shopping excursion with her friends, purchasing all of the new jeans [Bill Blass at that time], shoes and accessories that were out on the market. Admiring all of my sister's new clothes, I realized there was only one thing for me to do, and that was to ask her if she could get me a job at Sloan's as well. The next day she spoke to her Manager, George, and a week later I became a part-time employee of Sloan's. My sister and I would walk to work after school over a small bridge that slightly shook and made my knees buckle each time I crossed. But, I didn't allow that to deter me; I was a proud Sloan's employee now. We worked from 5:00pm - 9:30pm behind the register assisting customers with the check-out process; and after the store closed, we would re-stock the unwanted groceries [also known as throw-backs] and clean up our work stations. Often times, it became challenging dealing with some of the more difficult customers, and walking around re-stocking throw-backs after standing all day behind the register, but I constantly reminded myself that I was a proud Sloan's employee now. I showed up on all of my scheduled days; never skipping a beat. I was getting a weekly paycheck and gaining a sense of independence at the same time. One day, after clocking in, George asked to speak with me. He informed me that the new store policy did not allow relatives to work in the same store. I could continue working at Sloan's, but I would have to be transferred to a different location on 2nd Avenue in Manhattan. I pondered the transfer overnight, and graciously accepted it the following day. After working in Manhattan for approximately two weeks, I concluded that traveling from Queens to Manhattan each day after school and getting home at 10:30pm was simply not feasible. As a result, I tendered my resignation to Sloan's.
In the end, I was no longer a proud Sloan's employee, but I had become a proud, now 17-year old, who was given the opportunity to experience being a part of a hard-working team and earn a paycheck. I now knew the feeling of having someone rely on me to perform a job and to not let them down. And, in not letting them down, I didn't let myself down because this experience is something that I have carried with me more than 20 years later. I began working at Sloan's so I could wear the latest fashions, and I ended up wearing something so much greater....commitment, diligence and independence. And, if I may be so bold as to say so myself, I wear them well!!