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Dark Ecology: Race, Gender & the Environment

English 252 @ Hunter College

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The New York Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens were extraordinary. It was an intimate class experience with a small group of five and we started the day off at the Mertz library. At the library we were able to examine some rare texts including one which was about (praising?) Carolus Linnaeus who created the system by which plants are identified and named according to the sexual components of the plants. The book contained hand-painted plates and florid poetry—the production of the texts lead to the financial ruin of the man who published them (they were great!). There was even a book about a man-eating plant named Elizabite which was written by the same guy who made the Curious George series. The book about Elizabite was the basis for Little Shop of Horrors.

The gardens were also having a display of beautiful contemporary glasswork by an artist named Chihuly, which was an interesting contrast to the old texts we viewed. The sculptures complimented the plants so well and they were littered all over the conservatory—the area in which there were multiple artificial environments (rainforest, more rainforest, more rainforest, and desert).

In the gardens there were so many interesting plants. There were cute little Venus fly-traps and pitcher plants, a palm tree covered in spikes of all sizes, and a turkey oak. It’s amazing to look at these plants and to think of a time when New York was covered in forests. Taking the D-train uptown (despite the crowding) was such a worthwhile experience because it allowed me to feel a little closer to nature and history itself. The gardens are so beautiful and have such a rich history that it’s truly a transcendent experience.

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Anxiety: Balancing work, school, creativity, ambition, and laziness.

Over the past semester I’ve come to a realization that I harbor much more anxiety than I care to admit. Through therapy I’ve learned to cope through creative means, such as writing, drawing, and painting. Another way which I try to cope is through procrastination.

Procrastination is an interesting phenomena, it allows the temporary relief of your anxiety at the cost of experiencing more anxiety down the road. One procrastinates in order to avoid anxiety and in doing so causes more anxiety, so, one must procrastinate to push the anxiety off into the future which causes more anxiety—ad infinitum. This would be an unhealthy coping mechanism.

A healthy coping mechanism would be any sort of creative expression be it writing, drawing, music, or anything else. I’ve been drawing a lot recently. I’ve noticed that my creativity has skyrocketed, I’ve been drawing at any chance I can get, my skill has increased and because of that I’m enjoying it even more. I’ve also really enjoyed writing poetry for my Creative Writing class, oftentimes getting the work done in a timely manner. I work on my poems for quite a bit, I spend time editing them, fine-tuning them, and trying my best to express an emotional truth. I’ve found much fulfillment in both writing and drawing. I’ve also tainted these coping mechanisms with procrastination.

After a while I noticed my other homework has piled up. My readings for my theory class are now waiting until the last minute. My essays are “due later” and I can’t be bothered to work on them now, there isn’t time for this sort of work… but there’s time for drawing and writing poetry? My healthy coping mechanisms have now become unhealthy.

My original blog post was going to be a comic adaptation of The Tempest. That’s not going to happen. The amount of time and effort to create a comic strip is staggering. I love comics, but I have homework. I love practicing drawing and writing, but I have homework. I can create the best comic adaptation of The Tempest that the whole world has ever seen—but that isn’t a priority.

I would say working a job is perhaps one of the toughest things to do while in school. I’ve been at the same job as a deli clerk at a supermarket for 3.5 years. When I wake up in the morning I feel very motivated to do my schoolwork. By the time I get home I have spent all of my working energy on… well, work. Working a low-wage, backbreaking job is draining and it has the potential to discourage even the most motivated from continuing their education and their pursuit of happiness. Just spend time on the priority. The priority is to do what you have to do to the best of your ability. Do not avoid your work, do not avoid your responsibilities, and know that when you rise to the call of action you will find an immense satisfaction which is a million times sweeter than anxiety is bitter.

River Reverie

 

There is a quiet and constant rush of the cool water by my feet. The river is shallow, and flows through, and around, a small town of less than 4,000. The river is populated by small, smooth rocks, whose surfaces have been polished for decades, perhaps for centuries…

                The conifers stretch into the heavens, and glide their fingers through the clouds; they are happy. The river leads into a set of small waterfalls, perhaps 8 feet tall. It is difficult to gauge their height, for they are not dramatic. The waterfalls are wide and squat, spewing forth thousands of gallons of fresh water all at once. They are surrounded by natural bedrock which form a sort of staircase which is safe to descend. At the bottom of the waterfall there is an interminable reservoir of water. To cross it, is to understand risk, and to revel in its uncertainty.

                The river continues, somewhat deeper than previously, up to my knees; however, it remains wide and majestic. It is surrounded by a forest populated by birds of all species, singing to one another, singing to me, and singing to the world. There is a bank of slate up ahead; an ideal resting spot. Past the bank the water flows under a red covered bridge— a rarity. The water proceeds to bend sharply, and dramatically flows through the town.

                The local ducks take interest in strangers. There are half a dozen in this family. They live among this water and take sustenance from the river. Was this the same family I had seen earlier, with their distinctive brown, striped, fluffy, down feathers? I believe there may be an abundance of ducks in this area, who learn from the river the ways of kind hospitality, who lovingly embrace the world around them. I lay there and enjoy life with the river, sketching the ducks, as they dawdle around me.

http://townofjohnson.com/

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