Do the Write Thing (#WhyIWrite)

By Robine Jean-Pierre

It is 11:40 pm on a Saturday evening. I worked from 5:00 to 9:20 pm on the audio/video crew for the Haunted Hotel, City Tech’s annual Halloween-themed attraction. I worked the same shift yesterday. Working on in-house shows and events is required for my technical production class, and inevitably takes away more time from an already jam-packed schedule.

It has been yet another long week of juggling six classes (17 credits) and two part-time jobs. We are about halfway through the semester and I have had a handful of anxiety attacks and emotional breakdowns. I have missed assignments and (very few) classes. I have wanted to cut my hair, or even tear it out; break computers; fling chairs; scream, kick, stomp, and curse out everyone within close range. I have wanted to drop at least one class even though the deadlines are long past. I have been playing a never-ending game of catch-up, handing in the lab report that was due last week this week, pushing off what’s due tomorrow because of what’s due in two hours, only to find that when tomorrow comes there is no time left. I have sat at a desk in front of a computer for hours, with the earnest hope of getting it all done in one shot, and next thing you know, my time is up and I have nothing to show for it. Nothing. NOTHING.

I have an overdue lab report and the current one to complete by Monday morning, not to mention an elaborate assignment for my theatrical drafting class that involves a software called AutoCAD, which I do not own at home because none of the laptops would be able to handle it. I don’t think the computer labs are even open on Sundays. Then there’s this very blog post that I am writing, also due Monday. My draft was supposed to be in since Tuesday, going by the guidelines, although Thursday has been a reasonable compromise for me and my fellow peer-reviewing blogger. I’m sure she’s tired of me failing to reach even that agreement.

I am not trying to brag about my struggles as we often do, hoping for a pat on the back for our valiant efforts or some sympathy to liven up the pity-party. It’s just that everything I have written so far is all I have been able to think about for a long time. I am hardly able to think straight and I felt like I would have gotten nowhere if I had tried to write about some topic that, let’s face it, I don’t even care about right now. (Believe me, I tried. It didn’t work.)

Even as I write this out of obligation (blogging is my job and as I said, my posts go up on Monday), I feel guilty being up this late, 12:07 a.m., writing this sob-story instead of completing my lab reports, at least. But honestly, it doesn’t matter how I arrange all my responsibilities on my priority list–it all has to get done, whether I work on something first or second or last.

On a deeper level, I have to do this. Not just because I signed up to be a blogger, not because of the paycheck. I need to write. Writing helps me to take the emotions and thoughts running around like chickens with their heads cut off, as they say, and line them up for inspection. Writing allows me to drain my mind of all the excess content, whether benevolent or noxious, although I have found that I will more readily write about a negative experience than a positive one. I know how to deal with happiness pretty well; I feel no need to transcribe it, no need to analyze it–it’s self-explanatory, and simple, and beautiful. But when turbulence comes and I’m overwhelmed with sadness or anger or guilt, writing is like the chisel that allows me to carve the masterpiece out of a hulking, rough, ugly chunk of faceless stone.

I write because it gives me healing, relief, satisfaction, and a deeper understanding of myself and my circumstances. It gives me a space to express myself without alarming anyone. I am writing this for an online audience, sure (and chances are that few people will read it, like my last eight posts) but I am writing this primarily for myself. I am the author, and that makes gives me the authority to say whatever I want to say, whatever I need to say, without feeling embarrassed or intimidated or worried about what other people might think. If I were to scream in the middle of a classroom and start pulling my hair out, that would worry people, for sure–but I could choose a better option and let these letters be my voice, and this post a scream, and at the same time, a sigh of relief. Writing keeps me sane.


Virtues from Motherhood: A worn heart is a warm heart

I hear the lyrics to one of my favorite songs as I type this post “Cause’ when a heart breaks no it don’t break even..” a song called Breakeven by The Script. The song reminds me of a time in my life where I was dealing with the loss of my first real love and feeling like my life would never be the same, it wasn’t but I came to find that was okay. After your heart breaks you look at the world a little different and a little more cautious. Not all heartbreak is romantic, sometimes our heart will break at the passing of a loved one, or because we’re watching them struggle. Sometimes heartbreak is realizing you have to leave a job, or a place that you really love. Whatever the heartbreak is it wears your heart strings just a little bit.

A worn heart might sound like a tired heart but I’ve come to find that people with hearts that are just a little more worn are also a little warmer. I’ve invited friends, family, peers and anyone else who’d like to share what heartbreak is to them to write a small excerpt for this blog post. Their stories are below.


I am not new to the feelings that you drown in when you are dealing with a loss of a someone special in your life, I’ve lost my uncle to street violence, my stepfather to unforeseen circumstances and my unborn son. But, the one that stays with me the most is the loss of my mother, I was on my way home after a weekend of getting away from my problems that I had with my mother earlier that weekend.

That day I walked in to our 2 bedroom apartment and it was silent, and I wasn’t ready for what I was about to see, but who is ever ready for that… I walked in to my mothers room and there she was in praying position, kneeling I called out to her and she didn’t respond. I thought it was one of her episodes she would have where she would pass out because of her blood pressure issues, but it quickly became clear that this wasn’t the case. I was about to come to terms with the fact that I just found my mother dead in the apartment I grew up in
I’ve tried everything to hold my self together since then, and it’s been a long road dealing with that one day for the past 7 years and the only way I’ve learned to deal with that is by burying those emotions, one day I’ll face my emotions but right now I can’t – since her passing I’ve felt empty and incomplete and I’m still trying to fill that hole in my heart that was taken by her but till then I’m not sure how to reverse the numbness.

Jessica Deng– In Memory of My Grandma

I’ve lost three grandparents, an uncle and an aunt in the span of 2011 – 2013 and that’s less time to recover from the losses than I had anticipated. The truth is that there’s one loss in my family that hit me hard the most and that’s my paternal grandma: Wai Yuen Chen Ong. I remember that around Mid-January 2013 she had difficulty with phlegm in her throat and therefore was admitted to New York Methodist Hospital. It was the first time a doctor had a conversation with me that my grandma requested DNR, no life support or tubes attached to her prior to her passing. I remember Wednesday, February 6th, 2013 it was just a regular weekday and that I had class. When I found out through a phone call with my mom and that my grandma passed away at her retirement home, I just completely fell apart. It took me many months to accept this loss in my heart and family because my grandma was my last grandparent that was alive at that point and she was such a sweet woman.  The honest truth Is this paternal grandma my sisters, cousins, and I grew up knowing wasn’t our biological grandma because our biological one passed away just as my Dad was about eleven years old. Although, the grandma I grew up with wasn’t my blood-related grandma I still was able to learn the true meaning of family and love. A lot of people say I’m very lucky to have had grandparents that all lived past 90 years old and I am, but losing them so suddenly was painful. I hope to carry on the good heart and kindness that my grandma and grandpa have passed along. R.I.P Grandma Deng – 02.06.2013 – You are forever missed!


Heartbreak huh? I think I could write a book about it, but the one that keeps me up at night is the one with my parents. You see from a young age they kinda shattered me. They fought so much I was invisible, and before I was smart enough to realize that I was the issue they had shipped me off to another country. Years passed and well I grew a little tougher a little stronger but always fell to their stone throwing. My mom left me again when I was 18 and it broke my heart into the tiniest pieces. I never felt good enough for anything I mean if my own parents couldn’t really stand me and seemed to leave every chance they got then why would anyone else. So yeah I know about heartbreak, it’s all I’ve ever known.

I thank Joshua, Jessica and Mariah for sharing their stories with me. I had permission from each of the participants to post their stories. 


Funds were always tight while I was growing up, so to entertain ourselves we didn’t have the new and hottest toys on the market. While everyone raved about PlayStation and Xbox, we were perfectly happy with vintage 1990’s Super Nintendo (still is my favorite of all gaming systems). While other kids were obsessed with cable television shows, we were completely fine with Z100 and a deck of cards, singing the most current jams while making our own stories before falling into never ending abysses of laughter. As I grew older, times grew harder as well. I became more protective of sharing my feelings and my only escape was writing. Even though I was absolutely terrible at writing, I kept practicing; reading different styles of writing to help me find my own. The more I wrote, the better I got; eagerly crafting my own style and ultimately finding my own voice. If only for a small moment I could go somewhere else, entranced and tangled in my own plots and analyses, my time and effort would all be worth it.

Image Credit: Sabrina Vasquez

Now, I hope that I can somehow be that escape to others like how my favorite authors were to me. That for a moment… a mere second… all your worries fade to the background and you can just be in the present. If words has the power to change someone’s emotion or overall perspective on a situation, what else could they possibly do?

Virtues from Motherhood: Why I write

Happy National Day on Writing everyone!

In case you didn’t know today, October 20th is a day devoted to writing and the importance, evolution and impact of it. The National Council of Teachers of English promote the event with the hashtag #WhyIWrite. So, in honor of this day I thought I’d share my reason for writing.

My reason for writing has always been driven by a love of words, of books, and of reading, but it wasn’t until I had my daughter that I really fell in love with writing again. I have always known the importance of words and the weight they carry but to me, they carry even more weight because I know someday my daughter may read the words I have written. Words are powerful and inspirational and they can change your life, but they can never be taken back once they’re out there. I write to share my experiences, I write to connect with people, I write to let people know that they’re not alone in their struggles and that they can  get through whatever it is they’re facing. I write because it helps me make sense of what’s going on in my head and it helps me feel at peace with whatever choices I’ve had to make. Ultimately, writing is a type of therapy, an out and something I am passionate about and hope to pass onto my daughter one day.

The Golden Arches

a mcdonald's sign with the famous golden arches

Image by: Mike Mozart

Our world has been taken over by technology and its constant improvisation that allows us to become more tech savvy and heavily rely on in order to simply get through the day. With a world of technology that is readily available to us on the daily basis such as cellphones, televisions, computers, laptops, and tablets; it makes it difficult to disconnect from the technically advanced world. The easy accessibility of a cellphone allows us to easily get distracted from the world around us. And social media platforms only make this more difficult as it becomes an aspect of sharing our everyday lives with others on a public forum. With the help of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram; it forces life to become this competition of trying trendy things or the number of friends that one has as well as having the most exciting life with many other people who are readily interested in the activities that you partake in on the daily basis.

One of the most iconic fast food restaurants has created many innovative ideas over the years. This restaurant has received such a bad reputation over the years in terms of their decline in the quality of their food as well as the unfairness of the wages being earned by their employees. But this particular franchise that is reknownly recognized by their famous golden arches have made many improvements in each of their restaurants and the protests that their employees made for higher wages for fast food workers paved a way for higher wages for other fast food restaurants. McDonalds has been so helpful in providing many job opportunities as well as being involved in charitable causes such as the Ronald McDonald House Charities which allows extremely affordable housing and lodging for a temporary period of time for the benefit of families while their child battles cancer.

phone carrying lockers

Image by: CNN Travel

Although, McDonalds is viewed similarly all over the world, the franchise varies from country to country. The franchise of McDonalds in France specifically has a more café-styled restaurant as they sell a variety of prepared coffee raging from lattes to iced frappuccinos and other snack foods such as scones or macarons. McDonalds in Singapore are now trialing a new way of providing a place to eat while having quality time with family of other loved ones during the meal. It has a distraction-free zone in which you can relinquish your cellular device and receive a locker to lock your phone away while you eat. This will allow you to eat your meal with the distractions that using your cellphone usually brings. Simple things like just checking the time can lead to taking pictures of your food, texting a friend, or checking social media updates instead of alternatively just thoroughly enjoying your food without the choice of multitasking.

Comment below on your thoughts and if you think that this would be a great idea for American restaurants.

The Fulton Ferry Landing

How many films were shot at this iconic spot overlooking the East River?  Movies like “The Adjustment Bureau” was filmed here, or my personal favorite “The Perfect Man”. It was there that Heather Locklear stood awaiting a man she had met and fell in love with over the internet,  only to be unfortunately surprised when her sixteen year old daughter showed up in his place; ultimately revealing herself as a catfish. Would that crucial scene be the same if it were set in another location? Would the last run for their lives by Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in “The Adjustment Bureau” be the same if hadn’t made a stop at the landing? Apart from movies, the Fulton Ferry Landing remains a very important piece of Brooklyn.

Although I’m not the biggest fan of DUMBO I always found the small pier very interesting. It was unlike the rest of the area; soaked in a rich history that was as visible as fog lights. All of the other piers seemed to have changed with the time with time; becoming more modernized with each renovation. But the ferry landing seemed to always keep its character regardless of the amendments or refurbishment; it added more memories without departing from its history which is very admirable. Despite how many site analyses, inventories, pictures, or any other form of studies I have taken on the landing, I have never written about it until now.

The landing dates all the way back to the 1600’s when the Dutch settlement blew into town, ultimately taking the land from the Native Americans. They ported their large boats right by the piers that line Furman Street now. Stealing the land the Native Americans called Ihpetonga meaning “the high sandy bank”.

On August 29th, 1776, US soldiers was led to this ground by General George Washington for the the Battle of Long Island (aka Battle of Brooklyn Heights).

Robert Fulton (Whom I have mentioned in a previous post) is immortalized in plenty different areas in New York City. In Brooklyn, alone, we have  two different Fulton Streets; Fulton Street which houses Fulton Mall (also mentioned in a previous post) and Old Fulton which is the cross street to the location of the Fulton Ferry Landing also named after Robert Fulton. His name is so regular around this part of Brooklyn since he invented the steamboat in 1814, bridging the gap between Brooklyn and Manhattan before there was a bridge.

Some of the safety rails that line the landing are inscribed with words. These words are excerpts from a Brooklyn poet by the name of Walt Whitman, his name is also throughout this part of Brooklyn. His poem ”Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” was written as he overlooked the East River, analyzing the circulation of people in daily motion and fantasizing of what the future would bring to the area. As the steamboat ferries came in and out of the port, he proposed a series of questions and thought analysis of his prediction. He wrote it unbeknownst of the true outcome and he would never know but all that mattered in the poem was his undying curiosity and optimism of what potentially could become of the area in the next fitty or one hundred years. The Poem was published in 1856 then again in 1860 as a part of his “Leaves of Grass” collection; it made its debut as “Sun Down Poem”.

The Fulton Ferry Landing also happens to be a go-to destination for romance as it has seen countless proposals and weddings. Although it has been outlawed, there are locks on the guardrails, signifying the love of numerous couples

I like to think that Whitman was right in a way; that certain things stayed the same and others progressed. Boats still port in and out of the dock; leaving people to circulate over the landing. The wooden floorboards sees countless footsteps everyday from all walks of life. I wonder if the landing is as busy as Whitman’s depiction. Whenever i am on the landing, I think of the inhabitants of Brooklyn from the early 1600’s to now and how separated we are by such an ambiguous medium like time; I question myself “… How are we different?” but more importantly “… How are we the same?”

Natural Remedies

Good Afternoon City Tech, Genny here continuing with the topic of Midterms. Now last week I discussed a few pointers but this week I wanted to touch back with my roots, nature, the best remedy mankind has. Nature is a wonderful place to get away from the daily commutes, stress of daily modern technology and life itself. A place where we can get in touch with ourselves and to relax; no worries at all just the songs of nature, the birds, and winds. With exams, this is something I recommend to EVERYONE. City life is great and all, but it’s not the best for calmness and comfort when midterms are right around the corner.

The simple things in life are the nest and the best things in life are free. Nature gives us beauty and serene ambiance, one look and my stress is flushed away, Walking can do wonders when you’re in a green thumb area, it’s like soul food but for the mind. If you have a busy schedule and you can’t go far I recommend going to the Brooklyn Heights Promenade. It’s not far it’s walking distance, though do bring a bottle of water with you, friendly tip from  my experience haha.  

Credit: Brooklyn Heights Promenade web.

A beautiful sight to see right?? As I mentioned in previous blogs, nature does have an impact on the mind, it’s just encoded in our genes, before technology all mankind had was nature, to relieve and bring us peace. Now is the perfect time to go on a small adventure to take your mind away for a while, after all you can’t do an exam properly if your head isn’t cleared, maybe it just needs a green touch, and time away from the grey and dull writing of flashcards and review papers. and if you have a place in mind, lemme know! I’d love to hear your nature friendly experiences and perhaps even experience them, I do love exploring new places! As always, positive vibes to all and I wish you the best of luck in any upcoming exams! 10/4.




Writing Made Easy

Essay writing is a difficult task that everyone is faced with at one point or another. Whether a person is assigned to write a paper for school, or a presentation at work, even an email; everyone has to do some form of writing. In order for a person to become an efficient writer, they have to follow a few simple steps. These steps, if followed correctly, can not only improve a person’s writing dramatically, but also increase an individual’s confidence while trying to express themselves verbally. Throughout my childhood I was able to express myself verbally, but it was difficult for me to get my thoughts together to write an adequate paper. As time progressed, I found a method for writing papers that worked for me. I decided that I would like to share some of the steps I used, and still use to write a successful paper in hopes that it will be helpful to you as well.

Step 1. Listen!! When your professor gives you an assignment, don’t automatically write it down verbatim. Listen to how your professor explains the assignment. Pay attention to what the professor says he or she wants in the essay. Make sure that you know how long the paper needs to be; the specific font, font size, margins, and of course the outline. After finding out the specific layout of the paper, continue to listen to exactly what the subject matter of the paper has to be. The professor will give you direct instructions on what the topic of your paper should be, so the student must listen intently. As a college student, you should also listen to your professor during their lectures. After listening, you can possibly incorporate some of the information your professor gives you into your paper. Professors love when you creatively show them that you were listening to them speak during class.

Step 2. Take Notes!! After your professor has finished speaking, they will usually pause and ask if anyone has questions. Even if your professor doesn’t ask if you have questions, you should immediately clarify any issues you have with assignment. If something is unclear about the task, ask your professor to repeat the assignment. DO NOT be afraid to speak up!! Trust me there are students who have the same questions as you. As I’m sure you’ve heard before “There is no such thing as a stupid question”. Being afraid to speak up, and gain clarity in life will only hinder your success. Ask as many questions as you deem fit until you completely understand the task. As your professor reiterates exactly what they want in your paper, take notes in your own words. When it’s time to reread your notes, it will be easier to understand your own words, than the words of your professor. After politely interrogating your professor so that you write the best paper you can, then you can move on to the next step.

Step 3. Plan Ahead!! DO NOT wait until the last minute to start your paper! Give yourself ample time to do what’s necessary, in order to get a good grade. Procrastination can sometimes be a recipe for disaster, which college students cannot afford. Start brainstorming ideas for your paper the same day you get it. Write your ideas down on a notepad, and organize them in a way that will be beneficial to you. After writing down your ideas, think about how you are going to set up your essay. First, determine what your thesis should be. Next, try to figure out a way to incorporate your ideas into paragraphs that support your thesis. Third, map out your essay from introduction to body paragraphs, and then finally the conclusion. After completing the outline of your essay you can move on to the next step.

Step 4. Get Some Rest!! Relax! It is essential for human beings to get rest in order for us to have energy. Without energy, we will not be able to devote our undivided attention to our school work. I know that it’s difficult to sleep as college students because our minds are always racing. However we have to make an effort to relax our mind as well as our bodies. Without sleep, we will not be able to function at our highest capacity.

Step 5. Eat food that will give you energy!! In order to sit down at a computer for hours at a time, you have to eat food that will give you energy. Some food that will give you energy are: Nuts, Fish, Vegetables, Fruits, Water, Granola Bars, Oatmeal and Yogurt. Of course as college students we are prone to eating junk food, fast food, caffeine and other foods that will eventually make us crash. Beware of the unhealthy food before, and or while writing a paper. Eat food that will not only increase your energy, but will also help stimulate your brain.

Step 6. Research!! Research. Research. Research. In order for a person to write an amazing paper, they have to research their topic. A student has to put the time and effort into finding out accurate information about their topic. Websites like Wikipedia aren’t always deemed as acceptable by professors, so be cautious. After gathering information from credible websites, make sure that you start your bibliography. The best time to complete your bibliography is while you’re gathering your research. By completing our bibliography while researching, we are ensuring that we cite every single website that we gather information from. After researching our topic we can move on to our last step.

Step 7. Start writing your paper!! After following all of the steps above you are now ready to type up your paper. First things first, get your thoughts together, and pull out your outline. Organize your research into different sections depending on what paragraph the research will be inserted into. After organizing your information, get ready to start typing your paper. First, put your heading on the top of the paper, followed by the title of your essay. Your first paragraph should be an introduction to your essay. This paragraph should state what your essay is about, as well as defining your thesis statement. Your body paragraphs should be short, sweet and to the point. Throughout the body paragraphs, you should include a topic sentence, followed by supporting facts. Each paragraph should be laced with details, and facts that relate directly to your topic. Make sure that the information you put in your essay relates back to your thesis statement. After completing your body paragraphs, move on to your conclusion. Your conclusion should always innovatively restate what your introduction says. After you restate what your introduction says, you can move on to adding your finals thoughts and opinions.

Step 8. Proofread!! Grammar plays a large role in how a professor grades their students. In order for an essay to be in tip top shape, a student must continuously review their work. In reviewing their work, students will find various errors that they can fix. After a student proof reads their work, it’s a good idea to have another person proofread their essay. Another person may be able to pick up on errors that a student can’t, after they finish typing up their essay. Once your essay is free of errors, save it once more, print it, and hand it in.
Now that I have shared my eight steps to a successful essay, I hope that I have helped you become a better writer. These ten steps are my specific procedure for writing an essay. It’s not necessary to incorporate all of these steps into your essay writing process. However, maybe you can adapt these steps to your life in a way that’s beneficial to you, in some way or another. Keep in mind that the best way to prosper in your educational career is to listen, work hard, plan ahead and make sure you complete any task to the best of your ability.