A Montanan's Outlook

Small State to Big City, Here it Is

Non-Fiction Text Review for Hella Nation

Evan Wright’s book Hella Nation centers around Wright’s experiences with unique groups of people around the country. Wright’s purpose in writing this book was to find what he considered to be the “lost tribes of America” and report on their unique lifestyles.

Wright uses his skills as a reporter to infiltrate into the lives of these outsiders and tries to understand their nature and their actions. The book is about his experiences with groups ranging from sex workers/taxi-dance halls to Hollywood directors.

Evan Wright is an American-born writer who has worked for Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone reporting on subcultures. He graduated from John Hopkins University and Vassar College. His first writing gig was interviewing a South African Political leader, though the job did not pay.

After his stints in non-paying jobs, Wright was able to begin his career of immersion reporting. While immersing himself into the lives of different subcultures, he began to write long features based on what he experienced.

This experience led him to be able to immerse himself into the cultures for the book Hella Nation. His career in journalism prepared him for his authorship and gave his book a more real, tangible feeling to it.

Wright wrote Hella Nation in order to display the subcultures of the United States in their raw state. He wrote this book to introduce to his readers the differences in American life and the complexities of those in what are sometimes deemed “countercultures.”

Wright’s book is meant to make the reader think. He has specifically designed the book to lay out different ‘characters’ chapter by chapter that explores untamed portions of American life.

Wright used multiple different tactics in order to write this book. Most importantly, and most often, he used methods of participating and observation. Within the first chapter of the book, Wright makes it clear that the story of the Fifth Platoon Delta Company was told through his perspective and observations.

Wright immersed himself into the surroundings of the people he wrote about, and then he watched them. He listened to their vernacular and described their hygiene. Everything from the way their hair was parted to the amount of alcohol they consumed a day to their amount of times they could say ‘fuck’ in a day was recorded.

In the chapter “Dancing With a Stranger,” Wright uses participation to understand his subjects best. He chooses to dance with the ladies in each taxi-club in order to learn about who they are as people and who they are as clients.

This is one of the spots where Wright’s participation becomes crucial to understanding the people of the story. In order to learn about each taxi-club, Wright must interact with females from each spot. This leads to his direct participation.

These two methods, along with brief interviews from people in the subcultures or outside sources, make up the majority of the book. This creates subjectivity in the story because these characters and experiences become a part of Wright’s life.

Personally, I enjoyed the set-up of the book. Each chapter was a new story dedicated to a new group which kept the book interesting. My favorite chapter is still “Dance With a Stranger” because it was interesting to hear about the different levels of dancing and intimacy that are offered for money in certain cities.

This book has caused me to think a little deeper about unique cultures within American. Even though they “don’t fit in,” they are what help make America different. They are the groups that set America apart.  

Sing-Songy Final

I looked down into my lap and traced the outlines of the flowers on my dress with my pointer finger. My legs were crossed at the heels and pushed under my metal chair, along with my backpack. My heels dug into the fabric of the pack but I didn’t notice.

Amy Jackson was sitting to my left looking at the itinerary for the celebration. I lifted my eyes from my dress to her. The white lace of her outfit made her eyes pop. They looked fierce, outlined in black eyeliner and touched by bronzer. They sparkled as she scanned the paper in her hands.

Her hair was brushed behind her ears and it only fell to the nape of her neck. She was able to make her pixie cut look sophisticated without much effort.

“Hey, look. It’s you,” she said as she pointed to my name. It fell under Tyler Nordstrom and Anna Zetterland’s and was preceded with Lyrics written by. I stared at where she was pointing.

 

Today has been a very bad day,

Scrounging and scouring and lying in wait.

Running and scrambling, searching for a way

by dreaming and panicking, staying up late.

The night sky, twinkling and rolling

while the thoughts in my head are painfully scrolling

Attacking and splattering,

Ripping and shredding.

Today has been a very bad day.

 

Yesterday was a very bad day

with blood-stained thoughts and dreams.

Infiltrated by fear that just won’t go away

and painstaking acuteness it seemed.

Blinded and battered,

pushed until my heart shattered.

Seeing and screaming that

everything is beyond dreaming.

Yesterday was a very bad day.

 

Tomorrow will be a different day

where this deafening silence will finally be broken,

where the world will finally pay

and words will not be left unspoken.

I will finally sleep a dreamless sleep

and the world, with all my secrets, will keep

living and loving,

uncrippling and forgiving

because tomorrow,

oh tomorrow,

tomorrow will be a different, maybe better, day.

 

My lips tugged into a small smile.

“Yeah, it is. Tyler said that he and Anna are really excited,” I said.

“Have you heard it yet?”

“No, I haven’t. Anna asked if I wanted to hear it yesterday but I wanted to be surprised with everyone else.” My eyes darted to the piano in the corner of the room and back to Amy. “I’m nervous, but I know that they’ll make it sound amazing no matter what.”

I folded my hands in my lap and kneaded them together. I pulled my right thumb down between both hands and folded it into my palms. I chewed on the corner of my bottom lip.

“Mari!” I heard from behind me. I looked over my shoulder and my lips turned down at the corners. “Mari, this is your poem on the back.”

I sighed with relief as I turned and realized it was only Professor Triezenberg. My smile returned. She was perched on the very edge of her seat, leaning forward while sweeping her fingers down the words I had written a year earlier.

“Yes,” I chuckled, “Tyler and Anna are going to perform it today.”

“I didn’t realize you liked to write poetry,” she said. I merely smiled and nodded my head and turned around. Not many people knew my interest in poetry.

Professor Werden walked to the podium and began to announce the winners of that year’s Kiosk prizes. I sat glassy-eyed as we heard the champions read their pieces to the audience. One-by-one they took the stage, and one-by-one they left.

I shook my head and the room came back into focus as I heard my name.

“I was reading through the poetry selections for this year’s Kiosk and Mari Pizzini’s poem just grabbed my attention,” Anna was saying. I looked up and waved as everyone turned in my direction. My cheeks reddened.

“Her poem is written on the back of the brochure if you want to follow along as I sing. I hope you enjoy,” Anna finished. Her smile was almost as bright as the plastic-y gemstones that covered her knee-length skirt.

She stepped back so she was in line with the piano and turned to nod at Tyler, who was sitting on the piano bench. He dipped his head down and ran his fingers across the keys, coming to a stop at Middle C. Then he played.

Our song flowed with key after key, and Anna’s voice soon joined the serenade. With each word, my head moved slowly towards my hands in my lap.

Painfully scrolling brought my hand to my cheek. Bloodstained thoughts and dreams broke my heart again. A tear streaked down my cheek and my neck, landing in my lap. I brushed it away as I remembered when I had first written the words that were being sung.

My paper had been wrinkled and tearstained. Drop after drop had flowed onto the lined page that day in January of 2017. I couldn’t stop the tears, and I couldn’t stop the words.

I squeezed my eyes shut, tightly, as Anna continued to sing. I wanted to remember this piece without thinking of Julie’s face.

My heart was up there with Anna and every word showed it more plainly to our attentive audience.

I spread my fingers through my bangs. Poetry had always been my way out, and music had always been my way of connecting with other people. Here I am, letting other people hear my pain.

Creation had always been important to me, to my family, to my friends, and to most people in my life. It had always been a way of communicating pain and hope.

Abby Koch described creation as her “mental relief” and it shows who we are today. Who people are and who they become. I sat watching Tyler as his hands drifted over the keys and how Anna’s eyes slowly closed as she sang each note.

Creation can’t be just for me. It has to be for someone else. Our song was for everyone in the room. My eyes drifted from chair to chair, landing on Amy, and Christina, and Leslie.

This song was for Julie. For the pain she felt and the pain she left when she died. This was my creation. This was my mental relief.    

Anna’s voice trailed off as she sang tomorrow, and my breathing hitched as Tyler echoed her words with his keys. I sighed out as the music died, and lifted my head.

There was nothing more I could give. No more strength, no more hope, no more pain. I had laid it out one-by-one, A-B-C, key after key after key.

I smiled.

Kate and Leopold: A Review

Kate and Leopold has tugs at more than just a single genre. With its elements of time, history, and romance, Kate and Leopold works to send the viewer through time and through the present. The film is rated PG-13 because of brief strong language, and parents should accompany children while watching, even though the story itself is nothing vulgar. The storyline is quite common and should be no concern for many children. Personally, the movie became dull during its mid-section, and my attention was difficult to keep. Its characters of 21st century Kate and 19th century Leopold did not capture my attention.

The movie revolves around the lives of Kate, living in New York in the 21st century, and Leopold, who lives in New York in 1876. Kate’s ex-boyfriend Stuart finds a hole in the space-time continuum and travels back in time in search for his great-great-grandfather, Leopold, who eventually invented the elevator. Leopold ends up following Stuart back to the present day, where he meets Kate. Their story continues around the idea that Leopold must return, and Kate must stay.  

Kate and Leopold does not fit the common bill associated with ‘RomCom,’ but more sets itself apart with Science Fiction tendencies and Historical Background. Though it is, obviously, meant to be a Romantic Comedy, Kate and Leopold extends beyond that. It mixes romance with time travel, and the 21st century with that of the 19th. Meg Ryan (You’ve Got Mail and Sleepless in Seatle) and Hugh Jackman (The Wolverine and Logan) work together to create a unique romantic connection between two characters of different realities.

As most ‘RomComs’ recently, the acting was mildly flaky and the story was cliche. In the end, the guy and the girl ended up together. Released in 2001, many ‘RomCom’ storylines had been used, and I believe that James Mangold, the director, was trying to work with storylines that would be new and exciting by introducing the concept of time travel and an inter-dimension relationship. It seemed very Thor-like, romantics wise. The girl fell in love with the guy who wasn’t from her world and who was (technically) over 100 years older than her.

Though I did not necessarily appreciate the acting, I did enjoy the concept of the story. Mixing what I would deem to be an absurd idea with that of common 21st-century life gave the story meaning. In general, it made the movie more comedic in the idea that what was happening was most likely impossible.

I enjoy both romance/comedy, and science fiction, but I am not sure I have ever seen them try to mix together in a way such as this. I would suggest this film to anyone who does not take their films too seriously, anyone who enjoys corny romance, and anyone who loves odd connections of science fiction.

Overall, I would give this film a 2.5 out of 4 stars because of its creativity in the plot. Kate and Leopold attempts to make ‘RomComs’ more interesting and different than their average connotations.

Sing-Songy

I looked down into my lap and traced the outlines of the flowers on my dress with my pointer finger. My legs were crossed at the heels and pushed under my metal chair, along with my backpack. My heels dug into the fabric of the pack but I didn’t notice.

Amy Jackson was sitting to my left looking at the itinerary for the celebration. I lifted my eyes from my dress to her. The white lace of her outfit made her eyes look fierce. They sparkled as she scanned the paper in her hands.

Her hair was brushed behind her ears and it only fell to the nape of her neck. She was able to make her pixie cut look sophisticated without much effort.

“Hey, look. It’s you,” she said as she pointed to my name. It fell under Tyler Nordstrom and Anna Zetterland’s and was preceded with Lyrics written by. I stared at where she was pointing.

My lips tugged into a small smile.

“Yeah, it is. Tyler said that he and Anna are really excited,” I said.

“Have you heard it yet?”

“No, I haven’t. Anna asked if I wanted to hear it yesterday but I wanted to be surprised with everyone else.” My eyes darted to the piano in the corner of the room and back to Amy. “I’m nervous, but I know that they’ll make it sound amazing no matter what.”

I folded my hands in my lap and started kneading them together. I pulled my right thumb down between both hands and folded it into my palms. I chewed on the corner of my bottom lip.

“Mari!” I heard from behind me. I looked behind my shoulder and my lips turned down at the corners. “Mari, this is your poem on the back.”

I sighed with relief as I turned and realized it was only Professor Triezenberg. My smile returned. She was perched on the very edge of her seat, leaning forward while sweeping her fingers down the words I had written a year earlier.

“Yes,” I chuckled, “Tyler and Anna are going to perform it today.”

“I didn’t realize you liked to write poetry,” she said. I merely smiled and nodded my head and turned around. Not many people knew my interest in poetry.

Professor Werden walked to the podium and began to announce the winners of that year’s Kiosk prizes. I sat glassy-eyed as we heard the champions read their pieces to the audience. One-by-one they took the stage, and one-by-one they left.

I shook my head and the room came back into focus as I heard my name.

“I was reading through the poetry selections for this year’s Kiosk and Mari Pizzini’s poem just grabbed my attention,” Anna was saying. I looked up and waved as everyone turned in my direction. My cheeks reddened.

“Her poem is written on the back of the brochure if you want to follow along as I sing. I hope you enjoy,” Anna finished. Her smile was almost as bright as the plastic-y gemstones that covered her knee-length skirt.

She stepped back so she was in line with the piano and turned to nod at Tyler, who was sitting on the piano bench. He dipped his head down and ran his fingers across the keys, coming to a stop at Middle C. Then he played.

Their song flowed with key after key, and Anna’s voice soon joined the serenade. With each word, my head moved slowly towards my hands in my lap.

Painfully scrolling brought my hand to my cheek. Bloodstained thoughts and dreams broke my heart again. A tear streaked down my cheek and my neck, landing in my lap.

I squeezed my eyes shut, tightly, as Anna continued to sing. My heart was up there with her and every word showed it more plainly to our attentive audience. Her voice died off as she sang tomorrow, and my breathing hitched as Tyler echoed her words with his keys. I sighed out as the music died, and lifted my head. I met Anna’s eyes and smiled.

Confidence

Indianapolis in the summer of 2016 was hot. In the middle of July, temperatures were hitting over 100 degrees and being packed in a warehouse building with 3,500 of my ‘closest friends’ wasn’t helping the heat.

I looked around at the lines surrounding me. Everyone wanted to meet the pros from Storm and parents were swarming around their kids while fussing over their hair and skirts. Practice was in less than two hours. I stepped sideways to avoid being sideswiped by a fussing parent and bumped into the side of my mom.

“Well,” she said as she caught her balance, ” who do you want to talk to first? What was that one college you said Tommy liked?”

“Morningside,” I replied. My head was swiveling from left to right as I looked down the rows of tables. They each had banners with their school colors fluttering from the white plastic. I had no idea what the coach looked like or the college mascot or the colors. I just knew they had a team and I wanted to bowl.

“There!” I said and pointed to the right. The maroon and white banner was hanging about halfway down the line of tables. I grabbed my mom’s hand and pulled her behind me as I bee-lined for the table.

I walked up to the table and looked at the man behind it. The skin around his eyes was rough and wrinkled and he had a beard that wasn’t necessarily well-kept but didn’t look like an accident either.

“Hi, my name is Mari Pizzini and I want to bowl for your program,” I said. I stuck my hand out towards him and he grabbed it in a loose handshake. He eyed me warily. I smiled back at him, “I have been researching your program for the last couple of months. You’re new. I want to bowl somewhere and I want to help the team.”

Heroes Come In Scrubs Final

“I was actually the one holding him when a nurse came in and said ‘We need to take him,’” Bailey Powers, a second-year nursing major, said. She leaned forward in her chair and placed her elbows on her knees.

It was a hard topic to talk about. Her head bent forward until she was staring at the ground and her big toes moved in toward each other. Her hair was still damp with sweat from soccer practice and her backpack was still on her shoulders. Tired. She looked tired.

“My younger brother was born with a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. It’s basically where he was born with a hole in his heart and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. So, he was technically born a blue baby.

“He was fine when he was born but his skin started turning blue because he wasn’t being oxygenated,” Powers recounted. 

Her face was taut as she continued her story. 

“He probably would not have been alive if that nurse hadn’t found his condition.”

Powers’ story is not uncommon for the many nursing majors on Morningside College’s campus. Personal stories of ‘heroes in scrubs’ dot many student’s reasons for why they joined the department.

Lauri Sells, a nursing professor at Morningside College, spoke of this as well.

“Nursing students usually have some sort of situation prior to their deciding to become a nurse. Whether that be a family member, friend, or self. The interaction led them to want to become a nurse.”

These interactions continue on.

Shelby Stratton, a second-year student as well, was also lured toward the nursing world because of a personal tragedy.

“My cousin was diagnosed with cancer when I was younger. When she passed away, I decided I wanted to help people,” Stratton said as she sat straighter in her chair. The cushions made a hollow sound as she shifted her weight.

The question hung in the air. Looking at Stratton and the lines drawn in her face, it was easy to see that she was thinking. She sat quietly, but her eyes glanced across the room as she talked. She didn’t want to reveal detail through her words, but her uneasiness was noticeable. 

Losing her cousin, just like the fear Power’s felt about losing her brother, was balanced by the presence of nurses. 

These scrubbed heroes brought hope and peace into times of fear. 

Haley Mathes, a fourth-year nursing student, said that she joined the program because of the nurses that had once been in her life as well.

“The nurses were always the ones that would cheer us up. Originally I wanted to be a doctor but then I realized that the nurses do a lot more of the personal work,” Mathes said smiling.

Nurses are the ones that hold hands when the sick are scared, or who come in after a surgery to offer you water. According to Powers, Stratton, and Mathes, nurses are the ones who make the real difference.

Anything from familial tragedies to personal experiences shaped the paths for these students. They each have a main goal for their future careers as ‘heroes in scrubs’ and Sells puts it as such:

“To help as many patients as possible. To impact others’ lives for the greater good.”  

It’s All In the Name

I have been stuck with the name Marianna Delynne Pizzini, or Mari Pizzini, since the day I was born. Substitute teachers always get it wrong and I always have to smile and reply and say “it’s actually Mah-ree, not Mary.” It gets old never being able to find keychains with your name on it. I grew up having to write out twenty-two letters just to get my full name on a page. I was ACCIDENTALLY named after my great-grandmother. If that doesn’t tell you about the frustration of my name.

Your name is what ties you to your family, or to your spouse. It is the one thing that you carry with you from cradle to grave, unless you want to change it. Honestly, it is something that you can’t choose at birth but can change at 18 and that to me makes a name unique.

My name is unique. It is as unique as I am, in a way.

I used to hate my name. It felt clunky in my mouth. It never fit behind my teeth or on the tip of my tongue. I refused to answer to “Marianna” until I was 16 or I was in serious trouble. My name never felt like it belonged to me because no one could pronounce it and no one could spell it right. It felt like an accident.

Today, I have begun to accept my name. It’s intricacies make it mine. My name is still longer than I am tall, but it fits behind my teeth and in my mouth. I’ve grown with it.

 

Rewrite: Five-year-old

I hate my name. It’s stupid. It’s really, really, really long and I don’t like it.

Mom only calls me Marianna when I do something bad. I don’t like being called that. It’s Mari. Only Mari! Because I hate spelling my name for Ms. Lara. It’s Mari.

Why is my name this big? I wish it wasn’t. I wish it was something different, like Rose! I wish my name was like a princess. I want to be like a princess. I don’t want to be Mari anymore. I want to be a princess.

Heroes Come In Scrubs Draft #1

“I was actually the one holding him when a nurse came in and said ‘We need to take him,’” Bailey Powers, a second-year nursing major, said. She had leaned forward in her chair and placed her elbows on her knees.

It was a hard topic to talk about. Her head bent forward till she was staring at the ground and her big toes moved in toward each other. Her hair was still damp with sweat from soccer practice and her backpack was still on her shoulders. Tired, she looked tired.

“My younger brother was born with a condition called Tetralogy of Fallot. It’s basically where he was born with a hole in his heart and he wasn’t getting enough oxygen. So, he was technically born a blue baby.

He was fine when he was born but his skin started turning blue because he wasn’t being oxygenated,” Powers recounted.

Her face was taut as she continued her story.

“He probably would not have been alive if that nurse hadn’t have found his condition.”

Powers’ story is not uncommon for the many nursing majors on Morningside College’s campus. Personal stories of ‘heroes in scrubs’ dot many student’s stories for why they joined the department.

Shelby Stratton, a second-year student as well, was also lured toward the nursing world because of a personal tragedy.

“My cousin was diagnosed with cancer when I was younger. When she passed away, I decided I wanted to help people,” Stratton said as she sat straighter in her chair. The cushions made a hollow sound as she shifted her weight.

The question hung in the air. Looking at Stratton and the lines drawn in her face, it was easy to see that she was thinking. She sat quietly, but her eyes glanced across the room as she talked. She didn’t want to reveal detail through her words, but her uneasiness was noticeable.

Losing her cousin, just like the fear Power’s felt about losing her brother, was balanced by the presence of nurses.

These scrubbed heroes brought hope and peace into times of fear.

Haley Mathes, a fourth-year nursing student, said that she joined the program because of the nurses that had once been in her life as well.

“The nurses were always the ones that would cheer us up. Originally I wanted to be a doctor but then I realized that the nurses do a lot more of the personal work,” Mathes said smiling.

Nurses are the ones that hold hands when the sick are scared, or who come in after a surgery to offer you water. According to Powers, Stratton, and Mathes, nurses are the ones who make the real difference.

Two Shots for the Price of One

The waiting room was the same as it had been for almost twenty-two years. Reilly knew she was going to have to change doctors soon but didn’t really want to worry about it right now. She was more worried about the really big needle.

“Reilly?” She looked up, stood, and walked toward the nurse, “How is your day?”

“I just got out of class,” Reilly answered, expecting that to be enough to tell the nurse about her day. She wasn’t scared per say, she just didn’t really like needles and that made her not very talkative.

“Can you step on the scale, please?” Reilly did, and she watched as the numbers crept upwards and stopped at 180 pounds. She winced. “So you’re a Senior this year?”

“Yes, and I already know that I need a new doctor soon. I’m working on it,” Reilly replied. She just wanted to get the shot and leave.

“Do you want to get your flu shot while you’re here?”

“Do I need it?” Reilly answered. Her question was met with a look of disapproval where the eyebrows were raised and bunched together. “I guess, if I need it.”

She hadn’t planned on coming in for two shots, but here she was. She sighed. She followed the nurse back to where she was going to get her shots and sat down. Bracing herself, she watched the nurse prep the needle. It definitely wasn’t short; it was probably about three or four inches she guessed.

The first needle went into her left shoulder. She winced and it stung as the nurse finished with the flu shot. She groaned as she thought about the next shot…in her butt.

Walking out of the office she was sore and numb in her left arm and the right, fleshy side of her hip.

“Do I need to pay for these?” Reilly asked as she approached the front desk.

“Nope, your insurance covered it. Also, don’t forget that you are almost out of time with us here.” Reilly nodded, and turned to walk away, rubbing her arm as she went.

Heroes Come in Scrubs [Script]

“That’s a hard one. I’m not sure,” Shelby Stratton said. She looked down to her knees that were crisscrossed and squinted her eyes. As she was deep in thought, her blonde ponytail slipped over her shoulder and covered her eyes. “I just want to make a difference in their lives.”

The air was tense. Looking at Stratton and the lines drawn in her face, it was easy to see that she was thinking. What did she want to accomplish in nursing?

It was an open-ended question of opinion, but that didn’t make it easier. Nurses are what make the medical world-go-round, as they say. They provide joy and comfort to families.

“My favorite part is helping people and seeing how much they appreciate you,” Stratton continued. “The studying hasn’t really cost me anything, but it does make me busy. Really busy.”

Busy seems to be the common word around the nurses.

“Outside the hospital, {nursing} has really killed my social life. I have to spend so much time studying, and when I’m not studying I’m at the hospital,” Haley Mathes also commented, “I don’t really have time for my friends anymore. My friends back home, we’re not really friends, and my friends here I don’t really see that much.”

Though studying hasn’t really hurt Stratton at all, Mathes believes it has hurt her friendships, as well as her relationships.

“My boyfriend hates it,” she said with a chuckle, “I’m never really home and when I am I’m usually studying.”

Bailey Powers also stated that studying has hurt her relationships as well.

“It gets very difficult, time consumption wise. When school started I actually had a breakdown. I didn’t know how to incorporate the social aspects with the whole nursing piece.”

“It actually almost broke one of my friendships here. Luckily, that friendship was strong enough that we just sat down and we talked about that we had been pulling apart and it wasn’t just because of soccer or anything but also because I had been studying.”

Both Powers and Mathes want to pursue work in the NICU. They believe that their struggles will be worth it, though all three of them have thought about quitting at some time or another.

“Oh, everyday. Seriously, I think about choosing something different everyday,” Stratton laughed, “But I’m glad I’m doing it.”

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