A Montanan's Outlook

Small State to Big City, Here it Is

Category: Stories (page 1 of 2)

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.

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.”  

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.”

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies!

Free Food. We all like the sound of “free” attached to other words, but “free food” tends to interest college students quite a bit. In this case, it was free cookies.

We were given a box of 12 packs of cookies. Plain and simple. Our mission: to give out free cookies where no one had before. But seriously, our goal was to give out free cookies. I ripped open the box of Scooby Snacks and headed over to the activities fair.

It was pouring pretty heavily outside and the number of students walking on campus was pretty small. I hid my box close to my body so that it wouldn’t get soaked, but there wasn’t a soul around to offer cookies to.

After reaching the student center, which is off of Peters Ave, I headed inside to the Yockey room. It was furnished with tables in a U-shape along three walls, with more tables in the center. There were people at the tables talking about their organizations. I set my opened box next to our Alpha Lamba Delta sign and sat in the plastic maroon chair.

There were few people milling about, but Professor John Helms approached my table. I said,

“Good morning Professor Helms. Or afternoon, I guess. I don’t know anymore. do you want some cookies or a glow stick?” He looked at me like I was crazy, then shrugged and said,

“I’m walking around and collecting lunch right now, so I guess I’ll take some cookies.” He picked up one of the purple pouches and dropped it into a plastic cup he was holding. He smiled as he did so, looking up from the cup that now held his cookies. He didn’t look at me like I was crazy anymore but as a normal student.

We’re all crazy though, I guess.

The rain outside stopped a lot of students from coming in, so my box sat untouched for a while. Finally, one student was beyond excited to be offered cookies.

“I’ll just take one…box!” He said as he grabbed the whole thing. His black hair fell in front of his eyes and covered his darker skin as he laughed.

“No, um please just take one,” I stated.

“I know that they are basically our childhood, but don’t take them all. That’s rude,” Grace Russman said. She was laughing a bit too as she sat next to me but made sure he knew that he could only take one. He did, but he looked back at the box as he walked away.

Few people told me no outright, some said yes but then changed their mind when they say the cookie type, and I even had people like Tony Michalski who got way too into the whole “free” idea. Michalski took two during class and threw one at a kid and yelled “Baldy Award!” Not too sure what that means, but he sure enjoyed the free aspect.

All in all, free cookies are easy to give away. They are welcome in the “free food” community around college students and the questions of “do you want some free cookies?” was nearly always met with

“Heck yeah! I love free cookies.”

A Look into the Shaggs: Characters, Narrative, and Themes

The Shaggs, in this story, are three young females that formed a band in the late 60’s. They sang together, even though so many of their acquaintances believed that their music was awful. They are described as melancholy looking characters from the 1969 album cover picture they posed for. The girls, managed by their father, lived in Fremont, New Hampshire, a town known for its dull and boring demeanor. They were forced to find a way to claw their way out of the dark, lonely depression of the town.

Later in the story, the Wiggin’s girls are characterized again. Years after their father died and they were finally free to move away and live their lives, they were interviewed. Susan Orlean explains that they are still living close to where their childhood home was, though Betty is described as not having time to care about appearances. They work hard, though the youngest sister Helen still suffers from depression.

The characters in this story are written closer to that of a news story. They are introduced through common names and titles, and the narrative is lacking a dialogue. It does detail the story of how the girls began singing, the fear that their father placed in them if they even thought about quitting, and how they started from nothing and were jeered senselessly. later, the dialogue between Orleans and the sisters becomes more common and begins after the beginning anecdote. The narrative story begins with the story about the characters and their father and then continues into the interview and the after story.

This story tells of a trio that was forced to participate in something they hated because of a father that they feared. That begs the theme of fear itself, and the prison that it can place people in. Fear is a true strength and a weakness, as it is a theme throughout this story. Destiny is another theme within this story, stemming from Austin Wiggins Jr’s belief that the band was his destiny and what he was supposed to do.

This story returns to the beginning. It states that Dot still tries to approach her father’s dream and still participates in music performances, just not with the Shaggs. Orleans concludes her story by stating that the song the girls could never perform to their father’s satisfaction also stated that “you can never please/anybody/in this world.”

Story Ideas for Health and Entitlement

Health:
  1. Nursing career on the lives of the actual nurses
    1. Tell the story from their point of view, and how it affects their lives.
Entitlement:
  1. Do you use the radio, or do you use a music streaming source
    1. Entitlement to be able to listen to the music they want, when they want.

Spin the Story

According to the Article “New U.S. Sexual Misconduct Rules Bolster Rights of Accused and Protect Colleges” from the New York Times, rights of accused sexual predators are being increased and colleges are being released of some of their responsibility to the victims. Sexual misconduct, especially on college campuses, has become a widespread issue in today’s society. There are so many directions that this story could go, from an emotion pull on the heartstrings to completely factual and objective.

  1. Story on the different attitudes men and women have about campus sexual assault.
    1. Is it a problem? Rights for the accused are being raised, so an emotion/opinion piece on that perspective.
  2. Story on (if willing to share) the process of reporting sexual assault.
    1. It is not easy to reach out, and now that accusers rights are being increased it may be more difficult.
  3. How do you feel about narrowing what is considered sexual assault? A female opinion piece.
  4. Why is sexual assault an issue, especially on college campuses?
  5. Is bolstering rights a way to stop sexual assault at colleges?
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